Research Article| Volume 163, ISSUE 1, P39-43, February 01, 1999

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Radiation myelopathy with partial functional recovery: PET evidence of long-term increased metabolic activity of the spinal cord


      Postoperative telecobalt irradiation was performed with a biologically effective extrapolated response dose of 165 Gy2 delivered to the spinal cord of a papillary thyroid cancer patient. Incomplete cervical transection developed, followed by a gradual functional improvement, which is still continuing 8 years after radiotherapy. Between the 6th and 8th years of the clinical course, positron emission tomography investigations demonstrated an increased 18F-deoxyglucose accumulation and 15O-butanol perfusion, but negligible 11C-methionine uptake in the irradiated spinal cord segment. We suggest that the increased metabolism and perfusion, and the lack of detectable protein synthesis may be related to the increased energy demands of action potential conduction, due to the higher than normal density of sodium channels along demyelinated axons displaying restored conduction.


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