Spontaneous Cervical Epidural Hematoma Masquerading as an Abscess on Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan

Ali Nourbakhsh, Gregory Chaljub, Kim J. Garges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: The aims of the study are to describe a case of spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma (SSEH) without any predisposing factors and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) features of epidural abscess and to highlight the importance of high clinical suspicion. Clinical Features: A 75-year-old male presented to the emergency department after a severe neck pain. He progressively showed sensory and upper motor signs on the left side of the body. The MRI scans were suggestive of cervical epidural abscess with peripheral enhancement of the lesion. Interventions and Outcomes: He underwent a multiple level (C3-T1) laminectomy when he was found to have an SSEH. There has been no history of trauma or other predisposing factor, and presence of arteriovenous malformation was ruled out by MR angiography. Conclusions: The MRI features of SSEH may be misleading and mimic other spinal lesions such as abscess. Presence of tapering superior and inferior margins, spotty Gadolinium enhancement in the mass, along with abrupt clinical onset of pain and neurologic deficit, should raise the suspicion toward epidural hematoma. Enhancement in the hyperacute stage of the hematoma itself might indicate continued bleeding and, in the case of deteriorating neurologic status, will necessitate decompression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-395
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Epidural
  • Hematoma
  • Neck Abscess
  • Spinal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chiropractics


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