Spinal cord dysfunction after COVID-19 infection

Gianluca Sampogna, Noemi Tessitore, Tatiana Bianconi, Alessandra Leo, Michele Zarbo, Emanuele Montanari, Michele Spinelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: We observed individuals affected by spinal cord dysfunction (SCD) after coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The aim of our report is to provide our initial experience with individuals experiencing SCD after COVID-19 in a referral center in Northern Italy, from February 21 to July 15, 2020. Case presentation: We report on three men with SCD after COVID-19. Case 1, aged 69 years, experienced T10 AIS B paraplegia upon awakening due to spinal cord ischemia from T8 to conus medullaris, besides diffuse thromboses, 27 days after the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Case 2, aged 56 years, reported progressive cervicalgia 29 days after COVID-19 onset associated with C3 AIS C tetraplegia. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed a C4–C6 spinal epidural abscess (SEA) requiring a C3–C4 left hemilaminectomy. Case 3, aged 48 years, reported backache together with lower limb muscle weakness on day 16 after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Exam revealed T2 AIS A paraplegia and an MRI showed a T1–T7 SEA. He underwent a T3–T4 laminectomy. Prior to SCD, all three individuals suffered from respiratory failure due to COVID-19, required mechanical ventilation, had cardiovascular risk factors, experienced lymphopenia, and received tocilizumab (TCZ). Discussion: To our knowledge, this is the first report of SCD after COVID-19. Based on our experience, we did not observe a direct viral infection, but there were two different etiologies. In Case 1, the individual developed spinal cord ischemia, whereas in Cases 2 and 3 SEAs were likely related to the use of TCZ used to treat COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Article number92
JournalSpinal cord series and cases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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