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Haemorrhagic conversion of infectious myelitis in an immunocompromised patient
  1. Michael Stephen Pohlen1,
  2. Jonathan Sunwei Lin1,
  3. Kevin Yuqi Wang2,
  4. Mohammad Ghasemi-Rad2,
  5. Christie M Lincoln2
  1. 1Medical student, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA
  2. 2Department of Radiology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mohammad Ghasemi-Rad, mdghrad{at}


A 28-year-old man recently diagnosed with HIV (CD4 19 cells/mm3, viral load 3.6 million copies/mL, not on highly active antiretroviral therapy on initial diagnosis at outside hospital), disseminated histoplasmosis, shingles and syphilis presented with paraplegia developing over 3 days. Spine MRI demonstrated a longitudinally extensive cord lesion extending from C3 to the tip of the conus. Brain MRI was consistent with meningoencephalitis. Cerebrospinal fluid findings were notable for positive varicella zoster virus (VZV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) PCRs as well as a Venereal Disease Research Laboratory titre of 1:2. Patient was started on treatment for VZV and CMV meningoencephalitis, neurosyphilis and high-dose steroids for infectious myelitis. Repeat spine MRI demonstrated subacute intramedullary haemorrhage of the cervical cord. He was ultimately discharged to a skilled nursing facility for long-term intravenous antiviral therapy and rehabilitation. After 59 days in the hospital, his neurological exam remained grossly unchanged, with flaccid paraplegia and lack of sensation to fine touch in his lower extremities.

  • radiology (diagnostics)
  • infections
  • HIV / AIDS
  • infection (neurology)

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  • Contributors MSP, KYW and CML collected the data and drafted the manuscript. KYW, CML and MGR edited the paper. CML and KYW prepared the figures. All authors approved the final manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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