Natural history of spinal cord infarction caused by nucleus pulposus embolism
Nucleus pulposus embolism causing spinal cord infarction is exceptional. A 16-year-old girl was seen with sudden onset of interscapular pain and paraplegia from fatal ischemic transverse myelopathy due to arterial and venous occlusions by fibrocartilaginous embolism. In 32 cases of nucleus pulposus embolism, females predominated (69%) and age distribution was bimodal with peaks at 22 and 60 years (median, 38.5). Embolization was either arterial and venous (50%) or purely arterial (50%). Myelopathy predominated in cervical (69%) and lumbosacral (22%) segments. Schmorl's nodes, larger volume and vascularization of nucleus pulposus in the young, and spinal arteriovenous communications, trauma, and degenerative changes in older patients could be important pathogenetic factors. Diagnosis requires histopathologic confirmation. Nucleus pulposus embolism may be an underlying cause in cases diagnosed as transverse myelitis and ischemic infarction of spinal cord.