Increased metabolic activity in the spinal cord of patients with long-standing Lhermitte's sign

Olga Ésik, Tibor Csere, Klára Stefanits, Szabolcs Szakáll, Zsolt Lengyel, Géza Sáfrány, Katalin Vönöczky, Erzsébet Lengyel, Judit Olajos, Gábor Bajzik, Lajos Trón

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To investigate the pathophysiology of the radiation-induced, chronic Lhermitte's sign (LS) on the basis of long-standing case histories with partial functional recovery. Patients and Methods: As radiotherapy in two nasopharyngeal cancer patients, a biologically effective dose (BED) of 103.8 Gy2 (case 1) and 94.8 Gy2 (case 2) was delivered to the cervical spinal cord. Neurologic signs relating to the irradiated spinal cord segments developed after 2 months (case 1) and 5 years (case 2), with radiation-induced damage equivalent to grade 3 (case 1) and grade 2 (case 2) toxicity (Common Toxicity Criteria, Version 2.0). The clinical status improved to grade 2 (case 1) and grade 1 (case 2). Positron emission tomography (PET) and fibroblast clonogen assay were applied 25 and 7 years postirradiation, respectively, to characterize this rare clinical picture. Results: PET demonstrated increased [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) accumulation and [15O]butanol perfusion, but negligible [11C] methionine uptake in the irradiated spinal cord segments in both patients. In clonogenic assays, fibroblasts from case 1 displayed much higher radiation sensitivity than in healthy controls, while in case 2 the fibroblasts sensitivity was normal. Conclusions: These data suggests a close direct relationship between regional perfusion and metabolism of the spinal cord, similarly as in the brain. The postirradiation recovery may be related to energy-demanding conduction, explaining the increased metabolism and perfusion. The increased radiosensitivity and higher spinal cord BED may have contributed to the more severe sequelae in case 1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)690-693
Number of pages4
JournalStrahlentherapie und Onkologie
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2003


  • Functional recovery
  • Nasopharyngeal carcinoma
  • Permanent Lhermitte's sign
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Radiation myelopathy
  • Radiosensitivity
  • [ C]methionine
  • [ F]fluorodeoxyglucose
  • [O]butanol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Oncology

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