Cervical fracture from chronic steroid usage presenting as a stroke: A case report

Fisahn C, Moisi MD, Jeyamohan S, Wingerson M, Tubbs RS, Cobbs C, Oskouian RJ, Chapman JR.Cervical fracture from chronic steroid usage presenting as a stroke: A case report.Int J Surg Case Rep. 2016 Sep 29;28:135-138. doi: 10.1016/j.ijscr.2016.09.042.



Misdiagnosis of Brown-Séquard-like presentations can delay treatment; potentially endangering the positive outcomes a patient might otherwise have had. Stroke mimics can be perceived as signaling the end of urgent investigation and care once stroke is ruled out; however, stroke mimics themselves can require prompt care. Herein, we discuss an extremely rare case where stroke was ruled out, resulting in a lapse in care that lead to an exacerbated hemiparesis over the following week.


We present a patient with an occult cervical spine fracture with extension of the neck, caused by reduced bone density from a chronic steroid regimen. Nine days after the initial onset of her neurological symptoms, the patient presented to the ED with the complaint of left sided weakness and right-sided sensory loss. She was determined to have a left- sided Brown Séquard syndrome, which resolved following anterior cervical discectomy and fusion at C4-C6 and a laminectomy from C4-C6.


This case indicated that patients with dangerously low bone density should be weaned off chronic steroid therapy to prevent the onset of osteoporotic symptoms early in adulthood. Furthermore, this case emphasizes the importance of continued investigation of symptoms if a stroke is ruled out and the need for more diligent monitoring of bone density of chronic steroid users.


Stroke mimics can require the same urgency in care and diagnosis as strokes themselves.