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Clinical features

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

The clinical features of spinal artery infarction depend upon the segmental level of damage. Typical features include:

  • sudden radicular pain and para- or quadra-paresis
  • 'spinal shock'-like phenomena:
    • limbs initially flaccid but within days, become spastic
    • reflexes initially absent but within days, become hyper-reflexic with extensor plantars
  • loss of pain and temperature sensation up to the level of cord damage - due to involvement of anterolateral spinothalamic tracts
  • urinary and faecal incompetence from lesions in the lower lumbar / sacral areas

N.B.: fine touch and joint position sense are usually unaffected since the dorsal columns are supplied by the posterior spinal artery.

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