26-year-old Male with Spinal Cord Injury
History: 26-year-old male presented to the trauma center following a motor vehicle collision.
Exam: Awake and alert, intubated
Sensation is intact to T4 dermatome
Motor strength is 0/5 in all extremities
The patient is taken to the operating room for emergent decompression and fusion, with a planned second stage posterior approach to be performed later.
Postoperatively he remained intubated and had bicep movement graded at 2/5 on the left and 3/5 on the right.
Preop and postop CT images of the spine are shown. A follow up head CT was performed to check the status of a small parietal contusion.
This patient has suffered a spinal cord injury and bilateral vertebral artery occlusions (Grade IV vertebral artery injury) demonstrated on the accompanying CTA.
Question 1- Correct answer: A. Vascular insult The follow-up CT scan demonstrates an evolving infarct in the region of the posterior inferior cerebellar artery. The CT is not consistent with neoplasm, and increased intracranial pressure is unlikely to cause this finding.
Question 2- Correct answer: D. Anticoagulation. The next step is anticoagulation with heparin. An MRI is not necessarily incorrect, however in this case the cause of the CT finding is reasonably certain.
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