Non-traumatic extradural spinal haematoma is an uncommon condition that is usually associated with a poor outcome. It may present acutely with signs and symptoms of major neurological dysfunction secondary to cord compression, or subacutely over a number of days or weeks with fluctuating symptoms. The exact aetiology of this condition is incompletely understood, but it is believed that the blood is venous in origin, as distinct from the arterial origin of intracranial extradural haematomas. Causes of non-traumatic extradural spinal haematoma include anticoagulation, vasculitis such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and spinal arteriovenous malformations. Conditions that may mimic an acute spinal haematoma include extradural abscess and extradural metastatic infiltration. It is important to make a diagnosis of extradural compression because surgery may offer the best hope in restoring neurological function in these patients. Imaging modalities used for the investigation of extradural haematomas include myelography, CT myelography (CTM) and MRI with or without gadolinium enhancement. The MR appearances of acute extradural abscess and extradural tumour can mimic an extradural haematoma. In subacute haematoma, owing to the magnetic properties of blood degradation products, MR is more specific in diagnosing and ageing of the haematoma.
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Spinal haematoma