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Listeria Spinal Cord Abscess Clinical and MRI Findings

     Joseph Y Chu, Walter Montanera and Robert A Willinsky

Abstract:   Background: Intramedullary spinal cord abscess due to Listeria Monocytogenes is an uncommon condition usually affecting immunocompromised patients. Method: Case study. Results: A 69-year-old man presented with 3 weeks history of subacute paralysis of both lower limbs and the left upper limb. Myelogram and CT scan showed a widened upper cervical cord. CSF revealed lymphocytosis, moderately elevated protein and depressed glucose. A gadolinium-enhanced MRI showed diffuse cervical cord edema with two ring-enhancing lesions at C2-C3. Blood and CSF cultures grew Listeria Monocytogenes. He received IV ampicillin and gentamycin; the latter was discontinued after 1 month due to nephrotoxicity. Serial MRI over the next 3 months showed significant reduction in the size of these abscesses. The patient made a modest improvement in the power of his lower limbs, however he remained bed-ridden. Aside from being a mild, diet-controlled diabetic, there was no evidence of immunosuppression. Conclusion: Listeria spinal cord abscess is a treatable disorder and should be considered in the differential diagnosis in patients with a subacute onset of spinal cord dysfunction.

Can. J. Neurol. Sci. 1996; 23: 220-223


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