Blood supply to spinal cord interruption

Definition:

Blood supply to the spinal cord is supplied by three main arteries which travel along the length of the spinal cord, originating at the brain, and receiving numerous tributaries along their course. These three main arteries are named: the anterior, left and right spinal arteries. These arteries travel alongside the spinal cord within the subarachnoid space forming anastamoses via anterior and posterior segmental medullary arteries.

Below the cervials, a major contributor to the blood supply of the spinal cord comes from the posterior and anterior radicular arteries; branches of the aorta.

Examination:

Blood supply to the spinal cord is supplied by three main arteries which travel along the length of the spinal cord, originating at the brain, and receiving numerous tributaries along their course. These three main arteries are named: the anterior, left and right spinal arteries. These arteries travel alongside the spinal cord within the subarachnoid space forming anastamoses via anterior and posterior segmental medullary arteries.

Below the cervials, a major contributor to the blood supply of the spinal cord comes from the posterior and anterior radicular arteries; branches of the aorta.

Causes:

The interruption of the blood flow through these critical arteries supplying the spinal cord can result in spinal cord infarction and paraplegia.

One of the most common causes is during surgical procedures, which involve abrupt redistribution of the blood flow through the aorta away from the spinal cord, such as in aortic aneurysm repairs.

Other causes include:

  • Epidural haemorrhages
  • Sever hypotension
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Embolism
  • Neoplasms, and space occupying lesions
  • Epidural abscesses
  • Tuberculosis
  • Granulomas
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolysis
  • Spondylolysthesis
  • Paget’s disease

Examination:

Occlusion to the blood supply of the spinal cord is a medical emergency, and required referral. The examination of choice is MRI.

A detailed case history and thorough neurological, and vascular examination is also of use.