Epidural venous engorgement resulting in progressive cervical myelopathy from shunt-related intracranial hypotension

Case report and review of the literature

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  • 1 Department of Neurosurgery, University of Utah School of Medicine, Primary Children’s Medical Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
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✓The authors report an unusual case of engorged epidural veins causing progressive cervical myelopathy after long-term cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunt therapy and intracranial hypotension. An 18-year-old woman, who had previously undergone shunt placement with a distal slit valve for a porencephalic cyst when 2 years of age, presented with progressive spastic quadriparesis, numbness, and gait difficulty. Postural headaches were absent and a lumbar puncture revealed low CSF pressure. Neuroimaging disclosed markedly engorged anterior epidural veins causing compression of the cervical spinal cord. The slit-valve shunt system was surgically removed and an external drain was placed. The patient’s CSF pressure was gradually raised to clinically tolerable levels. Once the optimal pressure was identified, a programmable shunt was placed with the valve set at the same level. The patient’s neurological status improved, and the epidural veins had returned to their normal size on follow-up imaging. The authors describe the unique treatment strategy used in this patient and review the literature on epidural venous engorgement as it relates to intracranial hypotension.

Abbreviations used in this paper:

CSF = cerebrospinal fluid; CT = computed tomography; MR = magnetic resonance; SIH = spontaneous intracranial hypotension.

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