Thoracic sensory level as a false localizing sign in cervical spinal cord and brain lesions.
Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2013 Jan;115(1):54-6
Authors: Hellmann MA, Djaldetti R, Luckman J, Dabby R
BACKGROUND: In rare cases of cervical myelopathy, there may be a discrepancy between the sensory level and the site of cord lesion. This phenomenon is not well recognized. This study sought to investigate the characteristics of patients presenting with a false localizing thoracic sensory level.
METHODS: The databases of the neurology clinics of two major tertiary medical centers were reviewed for all patients who presented in 2000-2010 with a main complaint of paraparesis and a thoracic sensory level. Those whose initial thoracic magnetic resonance scan showed no spinal cord pathology were included in the study.
RESULTS: Twelve patients (mean age, 52 ± 31 years) met the study criteria. In all cases, the pathological lesion was visualized on magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine or brain. Eight patients had a compressive lesion of the spinal cord and 4 had demyelinating lesions. The difference between the false localizing sensory level and the level of the cervical lesion ranged from 6 to 11 segments.
CONCLUSION: Patients with a sensory thoracic level and normal findings on thoracic magnetic resonance imaging should be further evaluated with cervical spinal cord and, sometimes, brain imaging to search for potentially treatable lesions.
PMID: 22575059 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]