Devoted to diagnostic and interventional spine imaging and therapeutics


Paraplegia caused by spinal cord infarction after surfing 2006

General Spine

Reono - Bertagnolli, BS, MD, Non ASSR Member
Gregory W Petermann, MD, ASSR Member

Excerpta Extraordinaire


We present a case of irreversible lower extremity paraplegia in a young male patient. The subject first experienced symptoms while surfing off the island of Oahu, Hawaii in less than 3 foot waves. His symptoms rapidly progressed from bilateral lower extremity paresthesia to paraplegia. MRI was performed demonstrating extensive high signal within the spinal cord at the thoracic vertebral levels. Computed tomography, angiogram, and plain radiographs were also obtained. There were small, multilevel disc herniations present adjacent to the cord abnormality.

There have been multiple cases of spinal cord infarction after surfing over the last decade. Images from this case will be presented, demonstrating spontaneous spinal cord infarction in a previously healthy individual. Presumed factors for this condition may include preexisting causes of canal stenosis (congenital, degenerative, or associated disc herniation). The occurrence in beginning surfers raises the possibility this may also be related to positioning. Many beginning surfers lie prone with their head and thorax extended while searching for waves while experience surfers will sit upright on the board.