Spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma in an infant presenting with Horner syndrome


Advocate Christ Medical Center

Advocate Children's Hospital


BACKGROUND: Spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma (SSEH) is a rare neurologic entity, especially in infants, that develops in the absence of underlying coagulopathy, bleeding diathesis, infection, vascular malformation, trauma, iatrogenic, or other identifiable cause. In contrast to adults, diagnosis is frequently delayed or missed in infants due to non-specific symptoms and limited clinical examination.

CASE ILLUSTRATION: An 11-month-old female demonstrated symptoms of irritability, intermittent diarrhea, lethargy, decreased oral intake, and difficulties crawling before presenting to the emergency room. At time of presentation, she was noted to have minimal spontaneous movement of the lower extremities and anisocoria with ptosis of the right eye. Given her clinical presentation, a magnetic resonance image (MRI) of the spine was obtained which revealed an epidural hematoma with compression extending from C7-T3. She underwent C7-T3 laminoplasty and hematoma evacuation. Following surgical intervention, she demonstrated significant improvements in her lower extremity strength and resolution of Horner syndrome.

CONCLUSION: SSEH in infants is a rare neurologic condition, with diagnosis often delayed due to nonspecific symptomatology. Prompt diagnosis and intervention are essential in the treatment of SSEH to prevent permanent neurologic dysfunction. Physicians should have a high index of suspicion for SSEH in these instances, and investigation with spinal MRI imaging is recommended.

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