Background and Importance: Herniated intervertebral disc fragments rarely penetrate the thecal sac, and intracranial hypotension attributable to such penetrating fragments is even more unusual. We describe the first reported case of a cranial neuropathy due to intradural herniation of a disc fragment, in which intracranial hypotension from a resulting cerebrospinal fluid leak caused bilateral abducens palsies.
Clinical Presentation: A 45-year-old man presented with a positional headache after having experienced a “popping” sensation in his back while lifting a heavy object. He also complained of blurred vision and was noted to have lateral gaze palsies bilaterally. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain revealed bilateral subdural collections, abnormal pachymeningeal enhancement, and cerebellar tonsillar herniation, suggesting intracranial hypotension. T2-weighted MRI of the spine revealed extrusion of the T12-L1 disc and suggested the presence of a disc fragment in the intradural space, displacing the caudal nerve roots. A myelogram demonstrated a filling defect extending into the subarachnoid space adjacent to the disc herniation, consistent with a free disc fragment in the intradural space. A diagnosis of intracranial hypotension due to a cerebrospinal fluid leak resulting from an intradural herniated disc was made. The diagnosis was confirmed intraoperatively.
Conclusion: Surgical removal of the herniated disc fragment and repair of the dural defect resulted in complete resolution of the cranial neuropathy. This rare etiology of a cranial neuropathy, arising from pathology in the thoracolumbar spine, illustrates the clinical teaching that the sixth cranial nerves are highly sensitive to deformation induced by intracranial hypotension.
From: Cranial Neuropathy due to Intradural Disc Herniation by Rapoport et al.