Brown Séquard Syndrome

Brown Séquard Syndrome

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

Important

It is possible that the main title of the report Brown Séquard Syndrome is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

Synonyms

  • BSS
  • Hemisection of the Spinal Cord
  • Partial Spinal Sensory Syndrome
  • Hemiparaplegic Syndrome
  • Spastic Spinal Monoplegia Syndrome

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Brown-Séquard syndrome is a rare spinal disorder that results from an injury to one side of the spinal cord in which the spinal cord is damaged but is not severed completely. It is usually caused by an injury to the spine in the region of the neck or back. In many cases, affected individuals have received some type of puncture wound in the neck or in the back that damages the spine and causes symptoms to appear.



Characteristically, the affected person loses the sense of touch, vibrations and/or position in three dimensions below the level of the injury (hemiparalysis or asymmetric paresis). The sensory loss is particularly strong on the same side (ipsilateral) as the injury to the spine. These sensations are accompanied by a loss of the sense of pain and of temperature (hypalgesia) on the side of the body opposite (contralateral) to the side at which the injury was sustained.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Brown-Séquard syndrome usually appear after an affected individual experiences a trauma to the neck or back. First symptoms are usually loss of the sensations of pain and temperature, often below the area of the trauma. There may also be loss of bladder and bowel control. Weakness and degeneration (atrophy) of muscles in the affected area may occur. Paralysis on the same side as that of the wound often occurs. Paralysis may be permanent if diagnosis is delayed.



Individuals with this syndrome have a good chance of recovering a large measure of function. More than 90% of affected individuals recover bladder and bowel control, and the ability to walk. Most affected individuals regain some strength in their legs and most will regain functional walking ability.

Causes

This syndrome is often a consequence of a traumatic injury by a knife or gunshot to the spine or neck. In many cases, however, it is caused by, or is the result of, other spinal disorders such as cervical spondylosis, arachnoid cyst or epidural hematomas. Brown-Séquard syndrome may also accompany bacterial or viral infections. Blunt traumas, such as occur in a fall or automobile accident, on rare occasions may be the cause of the Brown-Séquard syndrome.



The medical literature cites, as causing or being associated with BSS, the following conditions: lateral curvature of the spine (kyphosis), Chiari I malformation, methamphetamine injection in the neck, multiple sclerosis, spinal epidural hematoma, intramedullary spinal cord tumor, and myeloschisis. Among the infectious or inflammatory causes cited are: meningitis, empyema, herpes zoster, herpes simplex, myelitis, and tuberculosis.

Affected Populations

Brown-Séquard syndrome is a rare disorder that affects males and females in equal numbers. More than 500 cases have been reported to date. The incidence of Brown-Séquard syndrome has been estimated to be 2% of all traumatic spinal cord injuries. The annual incidence of all forms of spinal cord injury is estimated to be 30-40 per 1,000,000 people.

Standard Therapies

There is no specific treatment for individuals with Brown-Séquard syndrome. In most instances, treatment focuses on the underlying cause of the disorder. Treatment may involve drugs that control muscle symptoms, and there is some dispute as to whether high-dose steroid administration is effective.



Devices that help an affected individual continue daily activities such as braces, hand splits, limb supports, or a wheelchair are important. Various other aids may be necessary if the patient has difficulty breathing or swallowing. Other treatment is symptomatic and supportive.

Investigational Therapies

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) is sponsoring a Phase II and Phase III clinical trial designed to improve walking ability after spinal cord injury. Patients with Brown-Sequard syndrome may be eligible to participate in the study.



It is well known that incomplete spinal cord injury often makes walking very difficult. A group of physical therapists are trying to determine the effect of treadmill speed on spinal cord function and walking performance.



Recently, evidence has been building to contradict the conventional wisdom that recovery of nerve function following spinal cord injury was not possible. It has been shown that nerve circuits (neuronal circuits) may reorganize by strengthening previously inactive connections and circuits. Sensory information related to movement is used to improve treadmill and overground walking.



About 16 persons will participate in the study, which is based at the University of Florida in Gainesville.



For further information contact:

Andea L. Behrman, PhD

Principal Investigator

University of Florida

Tel: 352-273-6117

e-mail: abehrman@hp.ufl.edu or



Michelle L. Woodbury, OTR, MA

e-mail: mwoodbury@hp.ufl.edu

Study ID number is: K01HD01348



Information on current clinical trials is posted on the Internet at www.clinicaltrials.gov. All studies receiving U.S. government funding, and some supported by private industry, are posted on this government web site.



For information about clinical trials being conducted at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD, contact the NIH Patient Recruitment Office:



Tollfree: (800) 411-1222

TTY: (866) 411-1010

Email: prpl@cc.nih.gov.



For information about clinical trials sponsored by private sources, contact:

www.centerwatch.com

References

TEXTBOOKS

Winchester P. Brown-Séquard Syndrome. In: NORD Guide to Rare Disorders. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Philadelphia, PA. 2003:520.



Rowland LP, ed. Merritt's Neurology. 10th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Philadelphia, PA. 2000:416-23.



Fauci AS, et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 14th Ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, Inc; 1998:2382.



Adams, RD, et al., eds. Principles of Neurology. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, Companies; 1997:162.



REVIEW ARTICLES

Iyer RV, Coutinho C, Lye RH. Spontaneous spinal cord herniation. Br J Neurosurg. 2002;16:507-10.



Massicotte EM, Montanera W, Ross Fleming JF, et al. Idiopathic spinal cord herniation: report of eight cases and review of the literature. Soine. 2002;27:E233-41.



Antich PA, Sanjuan AC, Girvent FM, et al. High cervical disc herniation and Brown-Séquard syndrome. A case report and review of the literature. J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1999;81:462-63.



JOURNAL ARTICLES

Abe M. Incomplete Brown-Séquard syndrome caused by cervical kyphosis secondary to neurofibromatosis: report of a case. J Orthop Sci. 2003;8:602-06.



Lim E, Wong YS, Lo YL, et al. Traumatic atypical Brown-Séquard syndrome: case report and literature review. Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2003;105:143-45.



Pollard ME, Apple DF. Factors associated with improved neurologic outcomes in patients with incomplete tetraplegia. Spine. 2003;28:33-39.



Cellerini M, Bayon S, Scazzeri F, et al. Idiopathic spinal cord herniation: a treatable cause of Brown-Séquard syndrome. Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2002;144:321-25.



Sakakibara R, Hattori T, Uchiyama T, et al. Urinary dysfunction in Brown-Séquard syndrome. Neurourol Urodyn. 2001;20:661-67.



McCarron MO, Flynn PA, Pang KA, et al. Traumatic Brown-Séquard-plus syndrome. Arch Neurol. 2001;58:1470-72.



FROM THE INTERNET

NINDS Brown-Séquard Syndrome Information Page. Reviewed 2-25-2003. 2pp.

www.nih.gov/health_and_medical/disorders/brown-sequard.htm?format=printable



NINDS Spinal Cord Injury Information Page. Reviewed 7-01-2001.

www.nih.gov/health_and_medical/disorders/sci.htm?format=printable



Beeson MS. Brown-Séquard Syndrome. emedicine. Last Updated: July 30, 2003. 7pp

www.emedicine.com/emerg/topic70.htm



Wheeless' Textbook of Orthopaedics. Brown-Séquard syndrome. nd.

www.ortho-u.net/o11/979.htm - Brown-Sequard syndrome: 1p.

www.ortho-u.net/o11/973.htm - Incomplete Spinal Cord Lesion: 2pp.

www.ortho-u.net/o6/181.htm - Primary Spinal Cord Neoplasia: 1p.



Brown-Séquard Syndrome. Med Help International. nd. 2pp.

www.medhelp.org/perl6/neuro/archive/7996.html

Resources

Spinal Cord Society

19051 County Hwy. 1

Fergus Falls, MN 56537

USA

Tel: (218)739-5252

Fax: (218)739-5262

Email: scs-nc@nc.rr.com

Internet: http://www.spinalcordsociety.com



National Spinal Cord Injury Association

75-20 Astoria Blvd

Jackson Heights, NY 11370

USA

Tel: (718)803-3782

Tel: (800)962-9629

Email: info@spinalcord.org

Internet: http://www.spinalcord.org



NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

P.O. Box 5801

Bethesda, MD 20824

Tel: (301)496-5751

Fax: (301)402-2186

Tel: (800)352-9424

TDD: (301)468-5981

Internet: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/



American Spinal Injury Association

2020 Peachtree Road NW

Atlanta, GA 30309

Tel: (404)355-9772

Fax: (404)355-1826

Email: ASIA_Office@shepherd.org

Internet: http://www.asia-spinalinjury.org/



Spinal Cord Injury Network International

3911 Princeton Drive

Santa Rosa, CA 95405-7013

Tel: (707)577-8796

Fax: (707)577-0605

Tel: (800)548-2673

Email: contact@spinalcordinjury.org

Internet: http://www.spinalcordinjury.org



Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

PO Box 8126

Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126

Tel: (301)251-4925

Fax: (301)251-4911

Tel: (888)205-2311

TDD: (888)205-3223

Internet: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/



For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.® (NORD). Cigna members can access the complete report by logging into myCigna.com. For non-Cigna members, a copy of the complete report can be obtained for a small fee by visiting the NORD website. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational treatments (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, see http://www.rarediseases.org/search/rdblist.html.

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