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Anaesthesia. 1995 Apr;50(4):345-8.

Anterior spinal artery syndrome. Paraplegia following segmental ischaemic injury to the spinal cord after oesophagectomy.

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Department of Anaesthesia, Armed Forces Hospital, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


A case of unexpected paraplegia after oesophageal resection under general anaesthesia combined with epidural analgesia and intra-operative intercostal block is described. Patients with compromised cardiovascular and respiratory function undergoing thoracic or major abdominal surgery can benefit significantly intra-operatively from a combination of general anaesthesia and regional analgesia. The continued use of regional analgesia into the postoperative period offers even more advantages. General anaesthesia administered before regional analgesia may, however, mask complications related to the regional technique and delay the instigation of corrective measures. The blood supply to the anterior part of the spinal cord, through the artery of Adamkiewicz, may be impaired intra-operatively leading to neurological sequelae known as the anterior spinal artery syndrome, characterised by loss of motor function with intact or partially intact sensory function. Patients at risk of developing the syndrome can be identified pre-operatively.

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