Pediatr Emerg Med J.  2020 Jun;7(1):49-52. 10.22470/pemj.2019.00143.

Recovery without neurological sequelae of traumatic spinal epidural hematoma masquerading as Guillain-Barré syndrome in a child

  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Inha University School of Medicine, Incheon, Korea


Spinal cord lesions could mimic Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). Misdiagnosis as GBS can incur severe neurologic sequelae. We report the case of a previously healthy, 14-year-old boy with traumatic spinal epidural hematoma masquerading as GBS. He presented with sudden onset of tingling sensation on both hands and feet, which progressed into motor weakness of both legs. No abnormalities were found in brain magnetic resonance imaging and cerebrospinal fluid study. Despite intravenous immunoglobulin therapy for presumed GBS, the weakness progressed rapidly over 8 hours, resulting in complete loss of sensorimotor function below T4 level and loss of deep tendon reflexes. Whole spine magnetic resonance imaging showed a large epidural hematoma over the C5-T5 level. We found that he had experienced whiplash injury on an amusement ride about 3 weeks before. He underwent emergency decompressive laminectomy and hematoma removal, followed by vigorous rehabilitation treatment. On the fifth week of follow-up, he recovered from the complete loss of sensorimotor function. Thorough review of detailed history in emergency departments is required for children presenting with ascending paralysis. Also, rapid diagnostic and therapeutic interventions are crucial for maximum recovery of neurologic symptoms.


Diagnosis, Differential; Guillain-Barre Syndrome; Paralysis; Spinal Cord Injuries; Hematoma, Epidural, Spinal
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