Subacute Combined Degeneration of the Spinal Cord Induced by Nitrous Oxide Abuse: A Rare Patient Presentation to a Spine Surgery Clinic: Illustrative Case.
Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Global research & reviews
Subacute combined degeneration (SCD) of the spinal cord is a disease involving the lateral and posterior columns of the spinal cord that can manifest in patients with vitamin B12 deficiency. Nitrous oxide (N2O)-induced SCD of the spinal cord is a result of N2O interfering with the metabolism of vitamin B12 and results in nervous system demyelination. This is an infrequent complication of N2O anesthesia; however, cases are rising with recreational N2O use. This case report describes a patient with SCD of the spinal cord induced by recreational N2O abuse. The patient presented to a spine surgery clinic with a 3-week history of progressive global weakness and paresthesias. After a detailed history and physical examination, the diagnosis was made and supported by various tests and imaging findings. Despite marked neurologic deficits, the patient's symptoms improved markedly with therapy and vitamin B12 supplementation. Spine surgery clinicians may be confronted with these cases and should be aware of this atypical presentation of SCD. As in our case, patients may present with neurologic deficits of unclear etiology. Neurologic dysfunction may be irreversible; therefore, accurate diagnosis, medical treatment, and complete neurologic evaluation are of the utmost importance to prevent additional progression.
Shermetaro J, Bridges M, Patel N, Vosko B. Subacute combined degeneration of the spinal cord induced by nitrous oxide abuse: a rare patient presentation to a spine surgery clinic: illustrative case. J Am Acad Orthop Surg Glob Res Rev. 2024 Jan 16;8(1):e23.00104. doi: 10.5435/JAAOSGlobal-D-23-00104. PMID: 38231988.