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Hemiparesis in spontaneous spinal epidural haematoma: a potential stroke imitator


Spontaneous spinal epidural haematoma (SSEH) is a rare condition that requires urgent surgical intervention in order to prevent permanent neurological deficit. SSEH commonly presents as a paraparesis or tetraparesis. SSEH presenting as a hemiparesis is less common and in such situations, it can be mistaken for a cerebrovascular accident (CVA). Thrombolytic or anticoagulant treatment for CVA can potentially worsen the neurological deficit. We report one such case of SSEH misdiagnosed as a CVA. Treatment with tissue plasminogen activator led to worsening of his condition. On a subsequent cervical spine MRI, an epidural haematoma extending from C3 to C5 was detected and treated with laminectomy and evacuation. Surgical intervention led to significant improvement from American Spinal Injury Association Scale (ASIA) B to ASIA E. Presence of clinical features such as Horner’s syndrome, Brown-Sequard syndrome and the absence of cranial nerve palsies in acute hemiparesis are indicative of SSEH rather than CVA.

  • stroke
  • spinal cord
  • neurosurgery
  • orthopaedic and trauma surgery
  • warfarin therapy
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