Spinal Subdural or Epidural Hematoma
(See also Overview of Spinal Cord Disorders.)
Spinal subdural or epidural hematoma (usually thoracic or lumbar) is rare but may result from back trauma, anticoagulant or thrombolytic therapy, or, in patients with bleeding diatheses, lumbar puncture.
Symptoms of a spinal subdural or epidural hematoma begin with local or radicular back pain and percussion tenderness; they are often severe.
Hematoma is suspected in patients with symptoms and signs of acute, nontraumatic spinal cord compression or sudden, unexplained lower extremity paresis, particularly if a possible cause (eg, trauma, bleeding diathesis) is present.
Diagnosis is by MRI or, if MRI is not immediately available, by CT myelography.
Treatment of a spinal subdural or epidural hematoma is immediate surgical drainage.
Patients taking coumarin anticoagulants are given phytonadione (vitamin K1) 2.5 to 10 mg subcutaneously and fresh frozen plasma as needed to normalize the INR (international normalized ratio). Patients with thrombocytopenia are given platelets.
Suspect spinal subdural or epidural hematoma in patients with local or radicular back pain and percussion tenderness or sudden, unexplained lower-extremity paresis, particularly if a possible cause (eg, trauma, bleeding diathesis) is present.
Diagnose using MRI or, if MRI is not immediately available, CT myelography.
Immediately drain the hematoma surgically.
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