A 66-year-old man presented to his primary care physician with left leg pain in a sciatic nerve distribution. His initial exam reportedly identified left lower extremity weakness, which prompted a magnetic resonance image (MRI) of the lumbosacral spine. This test was interpreted as normal, but during the next 2 months, the patient's symptoms progressed to bilateral lower extremity weakness, parasthesias, and urinary and fecal incontinence. This development led to an evaluation by a neurosurgeon, who noted spasticity and hyperreflexia. Sensory testing demonstrated a possible sensory thoracic level. An MRI of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine revealed a small area of an abnormal T2 hyperintense signal within the spinal cord at the ninth thoracic vertebra.
Past medical history: lumbar spine trauma at age 18; hearing loss caused by an old middle ear infection; 20-lb weight loss in the last 6 months
Social history: social ETOH, no tobacco, retired factory worker, married, 2 children; avid deer hunter who skins his own kills
Family history: father suffered a stroke, mother had diabetes
Work-up: at outside hospital
Given this information, what is the most likely diagnosis?
© 2004 Medscape
Cite this: Case 7: Chief Complaint: Paraplegia and Encephalopathy - Medscape - Dec 15, 2004.