Cervical epidural hematoma after spinal manipulation therapy: A case report

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Background: Cervical spinal manipulation therapy is a common non-invasive treatment for neck pain and stiffness, and has been widely used in the population. However, most people do not pay attention to the potential risks of neck manipulation, such as ligament damage, fractures, and spinal cord injuries. Epidural hematoma is a disease in which blood accumulates in the epidural space of the vertebral body. This disease is usually caused by trauma or iatrogenic surgery, and may be associated with blood coagulopathies, neoplasms, or degenerative spinal disease. Reports of epidural hematoma caused by cervical spinal manipulation are rare. Case presentation: We present the case of a patient with tetraplegia and spinal shock after neck manipulation. A physical examination of the patient on admission found tenderness in the neck and increased muscle tension in both upper limbs. The superficial sensation of the upper limb disappeared, but the deep sensation still remained. The lower extremity had 0/5 power on both sides. The sensation below the T2 level completely disappeared. A cervical magnetic resonance imaging scan showed an acute posterior epidural hematoma from the C3-T3 vertebrae. Ultimately, the patient underwent emergency hematoma removal and showed partial improvement in symptoms of paralysis during follow-up. Conclusions: Although spinal manipulation is simple and neck pain is common and recurrent in the general population, the basic condition and disease history of patients should be determined before manipulation. For high-risk patients, caution should be applied for cervical spinal manipulation or it should be prohibited. For a suspected hematoma, MRI should be used at an early stage to diagnose and locate the hematoma.




Chen, Q., Feng, J. F., Tang, X., Li, Y. L., Chen, L., & Chen, G. (2019). Cervical epidural hematoma after spinal manipulation therapy: A case report. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-019-2871-y

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