Background: Lack of timely recognition and neuroimaging may be a barrier to reperfusion efforts in acute spinal cord infarction. Methods: We performed a retrospective study of patients diagnosed with acute non-surgical spinal cord infarction at our tertiary academic center from 2001 to 2015. We studied parameters associated with time from symptom onset to initial hospital presentation and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the spinal cord. Results: We identified 39 patients among whom anterior spinal artery syndrome was the most frequent presentation (87.2%) and atherosclerosis the most common etiology (56.4%). Nearly, half of the patients presented to the emergency department on the same day of symptom onset (48.7%) but only nine (23.1%) within the first 6 h. Average time from symptom onset to spinal cord MRI was 3.2 days. We could not identify clinical, radiological, or outcome patterns associated with early vs. delayed presentation and imaging. Discussion: Our study found a time lag from symptom onset to hospital presentation and spinal cord MRI in patients with acute spinal cord infarction. These findings point at low clinical suspicion of spinal cord syndromes and limited recognition as a potentially treatable medical emergency.
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