DOI: 10.1177/19418744231196931 ISSN:

Severe Mimic of Transverse Myelitis - Spontaneous Non-Traumatic Intramedullary Hematomyelia: A Case Report

Devin Simon
  • Neurology (clinical)

Spinal cord hemorrhage remains an uncommon vascular pathology with no standard approach to treatment. Intramedullary hematomyelia is the rarest subtype and has only been described in case reports, making it a diagnosis easier to miss. A 55-year-old male with history of polysubstance abuse presented for abrupt onset non-traumatic back pain that progressed over several days evolving into paraplegia, sensory loss up to the T3 dermatome, and incontinence of bowel and bladder. His MRI imaging of the cervical and thoracic spine was concerning for a T1 and T2 hyperintense lesion extending from the internal medulla to the upper thoracic spine causing edema. The initial differential diagnosis, based on history and progressive neurologic decline, included a longitudinally extensive transverse mellitus of unclear etiology. He received high dose steroids and plasma exchange without any clinical improvement. An extensive autoimmune, inflammatory, infectious, and demyelinating workup via serum and CSF analysis was unremarkable. He was transferred to a tertiary facility, where repeat MRI spinal imaging included GRE sequences that was significant for increased susceptibility. MRA imaging of the spine was completed showing no vascular malformation. Overall, the diagnosis of hematomyelia was felt to be most likely. Despite aggressive inpatient rehabilitation, the patient remains paraplegic and requires long term management consistent with severe spinal cord injury. This case highlights the importance of recognizing vascular syndromes as a cause of acute myelopathy, understanding the imaging findings of blood breakdown products on MRI, and the desperate need for successful therapeutic strategies to combat a potentially devastating neurologic process.

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