Anterior spinal artery syndrome or Beck's syndrome or anterior cord syndrome is a rare neurovascular condition characterized by sudden ischemia with damage to the anterior 2/3rd of the spinal cord. The anterior spinal artery of Adamkiewicz which supplies this region of the spinal cord is susceptible to occlusion in the mid-lumbar region as the radicular artery supplying it is an end artery with no collateral circulation.
Anterior spinal artery syndrome (ASAS) is a very rare condition which occurs following infarction of the anterior two-third of the spinal cord supplied by the anterior spinal artery. The cause of the infarction can be either iatrogenic or secondary to diseases. Common etiologies include mediastinal surgeries  , diabetes with atherosclerosis , diseases of the aorta , hematological disorders (sickle cell, polycythemia), cervical spine injury or spondylosis   , infections (tuberculosis, N.meningitidis)   , drugs (cocaine) , vasculitis, and idiopathic.
The common clinical presentation of ASAS is sudden onset, severe, pain along the spinal nerve roots radiating to the lower limbs with quadriparesis due to corticospinal tract involvement. The myelopathy can be associated with impaired bladder, bowel and sexual function depending upon the level at which the spinal cord is affected. Pain, as well as, temperature sensation are lost below the level of the infarction as the lateral spinothalamic tract is affected while the posterior column vibration and position sense are preserved. Orthostatic hypotension may be present due to autonomic dysfunction. Occasionally the spinal cord gray matter may be involved, preferentially with the preservation of sensory, bladder and bowel functions.
Entire Body System
- Coarctation of the Aorta
Spinal cord complications following surgery for coarctation of the aorta. A study of 66 cases. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1972;64(3):368–381. [PubMed] [Google Scholar] Satran R. Spinal cord infarction. Stroke. 1988;19(4):529–532. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Massive hemoptysis 27 years after surgery for coarctation of the aorta. J R Soc Med 2001 ; 94:640-641. Crossref, Medline, Google Scholar 27 Deffenbach ME, Charan NB, Lakshminarayan S, Butler J. [pubs.rsna.org]
- Lower Extremity Pain
The patient started complaining of spasmodic lower extremity pain and general weakness. She was unable to flex her knees upon request. [anesthesiology.pubs.asahq.org]
- Edema of Lower Extremity
A 51-year-old woman with a history of breast cancer developed pulmonary edema and lower extremity paraplegia with preservation of proprioception as the initial manifestation of abdominal aortic thrombosis. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
- Acute Intermittent Porphyria
61 Koch M...Seifert CL 26386968 2016 24 A Clinical Perspective and Definition of Spinal Cord Injury. 61 Kretzer RM 27015067 2016 25 Guillain Barré Syndrome, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Acute Intermittent Porphyria – A Deadly Trio. 61 Patil AD...Passidhi [malacards.org]
The sleep breathing pattern was compatible with central alveolar hypoventilation due to automatic breathing control failure caused by a lesion of the reticulospinal pathway, which normally activates ventilatory muscles during sleep. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Martin TJSanders MH Chronic alveolar hypoventilation: a review for the clinician. Sleep.1995;18:617-634.PubMedGoogle Scholar 6. [jamanetwork.com]
- Back Pain
Abstract Reported here is a 37-yr-old professional diving instructor who had developed complaints of back pain and weakness in the lower extremities after diving. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
The following illustrates such a case: A 40 year old theatre nurse who recently had a long-haul flight woke up at 2 am complaining of back pain, chest pain and bilateral leg weakness. She was then brought to the emergency department. [oatext.com]
- Bilateral Arm Weakness
Neurologic examination months later revealed man-in-the-barrel syndrome characterized by bilateral arm weakness and atrophy but preserved leg strength (video at Neurology.org/cp ). [cp.neurology.org]
Detrusor hyperreflexia was noted in 8 patients, a normal bladder in 1 and detrusor areflexia in 1. External urethral sphincter electromyography revealed detrusor-sphincter dyssynergia in 4 patients and normal findings in 6. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
The acute stages are characterized by flaccidity and loss of deep tendon reflexes; spasticity and hyperreflexia develop over ensuing days and weeks. [oatext.com]
At first the lower limb paralysis was flaccid and areflexic but after several weeks spasticity, hyperreflexia, and Babinski signs appeared. After an initial period of incontinence bowel and bladder control was regained. [lksom.temple.edu]
Initially areflexia is present due to spinal shock but, hyperreflexia and spasticity appear later The most common form is anterior spinal artery syndrome. [sci-recovery.org]
- Flaccid Paralysis of the Lower Extremity
Postoperative neurologic examination disclosed flaccid paralysis of the lower extremities and sphincter incontinence. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Anterior spinal artery syndrome manifests as flaccid paralysis of the lower extremities and bowel and bladder dysfunction with sparing of proprioception and sensation, due to the selective ischemia to the anterior portion of the cord. [openanesthesia.org]
Postoperative Course Flaccid paralysis of the lower extremities and sphincter incontinence was observed after the surgery. [journals.lww.com]
- Flail Arm
arm syndrome Dinesh C. [neurologyindia.com]
[…] steal syndrome. 61 Mohassel P...Gailloud P 24195022 2013 37 Images in anesthesiology: reversible anterior spinal artery syndrome during celiac plexus block. 61 Elahi F...Lassalle CA 22710956 2013 38 Subacute anterior spinal cord ischemia with lower limb monoplegia [malacards.org]
ASAS should be suspected in any adult or child presenting with acute onset painful quadriparesis with preservation of posterior column sensations. History may indicate the etiology but a thorough physical and neurological examination are vital for diagnosis of the condition as well a to detect the level and extent of the neurological deficits. Routine laboratory tests such as complete blood count with differential, serum blood glucose, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), antinuclear antibody (ANA) levels, complement assay, nuclear antibody assays, serum lipids, serum electrolytes, and serology for syphilis should be ordered. An infectious etiology is indicated by leukocytosis while inflammatory markers may be elevated in infections as well as vasculitis. Besides diabetes, it is important to exclude coagulation disorders with tests like activated partial thromboplastin time, antiphospholipid antibody titer, protein C and protein S levels and platelet count  . Cerebrospinal fluid analysis (CSF) is performed to look for infectious and autoimmune conditions while blood and CSF polymerase chain reaction (PCR) may be required to exclude viral etiologies.
However, the diagnosis of ASAS can only be confirmed with a magnetic resonance (MRI) scan of the spinal cord. This can detect all the causative lesions within or outside the spinal cord      . Ideally, it should be performed at the earliest to avoid complications such as renal failure from developing . A concomitant brain MRI may be useful in identifying lesions of multiple sclerosis, sarcoid, and other infections. A computed tomography (CT) scan and plain radiography do not have a significant role in the diagnosis of ASAS. If MRI is not available then CT myelography can help to detect tumors. Spinal angiography (arteriography) may be performed to identify an arteriovenous malformation
Other supportive tests in ASAS include electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity (NCV) tests to document neurological deficits and denervation changes. They also help to differentiate ASAS from polyneuropathy.
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