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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 756-758

”White cord syndrome” of acute tetraplegia after posterior cervical decompression and resulting hypoxic brain injury

Indian Spinal Injuries Center, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Kalyan Kumar Varma Kalidindi
Indian Spinal Injuries Center, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi - 110 070
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ajns.AJNS_240_20

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White cord syndrome (WCS) is a rare case of severe neurological deterioration after surgical decompression for cervical myelopathy. It was proposed to be secondary to an ischemia/reperfusion injury. An association of WCS with a hypoxic brain injury (HBI) has not been documented. A 63-year-old man presented to us with progressive symptoms of cervical myelopathy. Computed tomography scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan findings were suggestive of an ossified posterior longitudinal ligament with cord atrophy and myelomalacia changes. He was managed surgically by decompression and fusion through a posterior approach. During the surgery, there was a sudden loss of neuromonitoring signals after laminectomy, and wake-up assessment revealed neurological deterioration. Immediate postoperative imaging revealed adequately placed screws and adequate cord decompression. A high dose of intravenous steroids was given. Repeat MRI scan on the 3rd postoperative day suggested cord edema over a large area on T2-weighted images. He was diagnosed as WCS and managed conservatively. He had persistent abdominal distension postoperatively, and a diagnostic endoscopy was advised. At the start of the procedure, the patient had a sudden-onset loss of consciousness. Electrocardiogram suggested bradyarrhythmias with hypotension. The patient was resuscitated, intubated, and shifted to intensive care unit. He was diagnosed to have a HBI. He was managed with multidisciplinary rehabilitation and discharged at 4 months' postoperatively with stable vitals. There was no improvement in the neurology or his consciousness. Spine surgeons have to be aware of this potentially disastrous complication of WCS. One should take adequate postoperative care to avoid preventable complications like HBI associated with it.

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