Breech delivery, rupture of Batson’s plexus, T8 epidural hematoma, and paraplegia

A male newborn born by an atraumatic vaginal frank breech delivery was noted to have normal limb movement at birth. However, at 24 hours the neonate developed paraplegia with no evidence of spinal cord injury on radiographic films. Ultrasound and MRI demonstrated an epidural hematoma at the level of T8 and distal cord edema which extended to the conus medullaris. Delayed onset paraplegia following an atraumatic vaginal breech delivery is unlikely to have been caused by acute traction or torsion at birth. Traction and torsion injuries would present acutely. This infant developed a T8 epidural hematoma which has not been reported in a newborn. The pathophysiology of a spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma (SSEH) in adults is frequently related to increased abdominal/thoracic pressure which results in increased pressure in the highly anastomotic network of thin walled and valve-less vertebral venous plexus (Batson’s plexus). Such increase in abdominal/thoracic pressure could occur during a frank breech delivery and result in a slow onset epidural hematoma. This report highlights the importance of considering slow onset epidural hematoma in the differential diagnosis of neonates who develop slow onset paraplegia. If diagnosed quickly, an epidural hematoma represents a potentially treatable etiology by rapid surgical decompression.

*Corresponding Author: 

Lawrence Lilien, MD, Creighton University School of Medicine Phoenix Regional Campus, St Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, 350 West Thomas Road, Phoenix, Arizona, 85013, USA. E-mail: