Indexed on: 26 Mar '13Published on: 26 Mar '13Published in: Evidence-based spine-care journal
Recurrent cervical symptoms frequently occur after cervical disc replacement and fusion. To date, no algorithm for the diagnostic assessment of these symptoms has been established. We present a case report and review of the literature to illustrate the need for interdisciplinary diagnostics in recurrent cervicobrachialgia without pathological cervical imaging. The hospital chart, medical history, physical examination, and imaging of a single patient were reviewed. A 53-year-old man with preexisting cervical disc replacement and fusion presented with a new episode of cervicobrachialgia after a 2-year symptom-free interval. Cervical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed no pathological findings. Six months later the patient reported increasing symptoms including numbness and weakness of the right arm. Repeated cervical MRI and thoracic computed tomography revealed cervical metastases with intraspinal tumor growth and an underlying extensive small cell bronchial carcinoma. In recurrent cervicobrachialgia, without pathological cervical imaging, interdisciplinary diagnostics are needed. Basic diagnostic tests may assist to exclude severe non-vertebrogenic pathologies.