Paraplegia after intercostal neurolysis with phenol
Lakshman Gollapalli, Rudramanaidu Muppuri
Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Wayne State University/Detroit Medical Center, Detroit, MI, USA
Abstract: In patients with advanced stages of cancer, severe pain is commonly encountered and is very difficult to treat. It affects the quality of life of the patient and the families involved. Pain can be managed using analgesics and adjuvant therapy. However, studies have shown that at least 10%–15% of patients fail to control pain adequately and will experience severe pain. We discuss the case of a 66-year-old female with metastatic adenoid cystic carcinoma of the left submandibular gland and developed paraplegia following intercostal neurolysis with phenol. After a successful diagnostic T6 to T12 intercostal nerve block, the patient was scheduled for an intercostal neurolytic block. We injected 2 mL of 10% aqueous phenol at each level on the left from the T6 to T12 ribs. One hour after the procedure, the patient developed bilateral lower extremity weakness with difficulty moving. A physical examination showed the absence of sensation to pinpricks and vibration from T10 to S5 and an absence of anal sphincter tone and sensation. Magnetic resonance images of the thoracic and lumbar spine showed leptomeningeal metastatic disease and myelitis. We postulate that the paraplegia could be from phenol diffusing along either the spinal nerves or the paravertebral venous plexus into the subarachnoid space. This case report points to the risks involved with phenol neurolysis close to the spine, and we propose alternative methods to minimize neurological complications.
Keywords: intercostal neurolysis, pain, phenol, paraplegia
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