Surgical management of a patient with thoracic spinal cord herniation: Technical case report and review

Eduardo Martinez-Del-Campo, Karam Moon, Samuel Kalb, Hector Soriano-Baron, Nicholas Theodore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND IMPORTANCE: Thoracic spinal cord herniation (TSCH) is rare and likely underdiagnosed. It is characterized by ventral herniation of the spinal cord through a dural defect, effacement of the anterior subarachnoid space, and increased posterior subarachnoid space. We present here a case of TSCH diagnosed and surgically treated at Barrow Neurological Institute, along with supplemental intraoperative video. CLINICAL PRESENTATION: A 61-year-old man with a history of progressive myelopathy causing left lower-extremity weakness with associated numbness, impaired gait, foot drop, incontinence, and sexual impotence was referred without any previous treatment. Computed tomographic myelography and magnetic resonance imaging of the thoracic spine showed ventral spinal cord herniation at T3-T4. Neurological monitoring was recorded preoperatively and intraoperatively. The patient underwent left-sided posterolateral exploration via T3-T4 laminectomies and costotransversectomy for intradural cord release/detethering of the spinal cord with additional superior and inferior extension and repair of the dural defect. Arthrodesis was not considered necessary. After cord release, motor evoked potentials showed immediate improvement from baseline. Dural duplication was considered the cause of TSCH in this case. Total reduction of herniation was evident in postoperative images. The postoperative course was uneventful, and at the last follow-up, the patient had regained ambulation and sphincter control. CONCLUSION: Anterior displacement of the thoracic spinal cord should elicit consideration of herniation to prevent misdiagnosis and inadequate surgery. Surgical cord release and enlargement of the dural defect are safe and associated with good clinical outcomes. ABBREVIATIONS: mJOA, modified Japanese Orthopedic Association TSCH, thoracic spinal cord herniation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E492-E498
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 19 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Anterior
  • Cord
  • Herniation
  • Idiopathic
  • Spinal
  • Thoracic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Surgical management of a patient with thoracic spinal cord herniation: Technical case report and review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this