Parainfectious conus myelitis

Sunil Pradhan, Rakesh K. Gupta, Rakesh Kapoor, Sneh Shashank, Manoj K. Kathuria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


We describe electroclinical and imaging features of a peculiar type of parainfectious myelitis that selectively involves the conus/epiconus region of the spinal cord. Twelve patients of parainfectious myelitis with MRI evidence of inflammatory lesions in the conus/epiconus region of the spinal cord were studied. All patients underwent full clinical and electrophysiological evaluation along with MRI of the spine. MRI included axial images at the site of lesion. All patients had a unique clinical presentation with urinary symptoms. Careful clinical examination revealed minimal sensorimotor dysfunction in the lower lumbar and sacral segments, which remained unnoticed by most of the patients; three female patients had no sensorimotor deficit. The motor paralysis recorded in four patients was flaccid and areflexic. The sensory level was inconspicuous as it was in the leg area corresponding to the lumbar and sacral spinal segments. Sensory loss was significantly more in the perineal region in those seven patients who had MRI evidence of inflammatory lesion in conus medullaris; two patients had maximum sensory loss in lumbar dermatomal distribution, which corresponded with the focal segmental myelitis involving 'epiconus'. MRI done in the sagittal plane was either normal or only 'suggestive' of myelitis in most of the patients and the inflammatory lesions were much more visible in the axial plane. The lesions predominantly involved central gray matter with spread to adjoining white matter in nine patients; in three patients with pure bladder involvement, lesions were confined to lateral gray matter of the conus medullaris. Our findings indicate that parainfectious myelitis (PIM) selectively involving conus medullaris is an important cause of unexplained acute or sub-acute urinary symptoms in adolescent and adult patients. In suspected cases, MRI must include axial images of the conus-epiconus region, as sagittal images may not always reveal the lesion. Due to initial presentation with urinary symptoms, absent or minimal sensory-motor signs, no transverse level over the trunk and unique MRI features, this condition may be called parainfectious conus myelitis (PICM).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-162
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 11 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute transverse myelitis
  • Conus medullaris
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Parainfectious myelitis
  • Urinary retention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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