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  IN THIS Article
 ::  Abstract
 ::  Introduction
 ::  Case history
 ::  Discussion
 ::  Acknowledgements
 ::  References

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Year : 1976  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 44-46

Unusual presentation of acute myeloid leukemia

Department of Medicine, K.E.M. Hospital and Seth G.S. Medical College, Parel, Bombay-400012, India

Correspondence Address:
P D Anjaria
Department of Medicine, K.E.M. Hospital and Seth G.S. Medical College, Parel, Bombay-400012
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 1067426

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 :: Abstract 

A case of acute myeloid leukemia with unusual- presentation of compression paraplegia of acute onset, with extensive epidural plaque is reported. Mechanisms of neurologic manifestations, espe­cially involvement of the spinal cord, of leukemia, are discussed.

How to cite this article:
Anjaria P D, Gadgil U G, Gaikwad S M. Unusual presentation of acute myeloid leukemia. J Postgrad Med 1976;22:44-6

How to cite this URL:
Anjaria P D, Gadgil U G, Gaikwad S M. Unusual presentation of acute myeloid leukemia. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 1976 [cited 2023 Mar 20];22:44-6. Available from:

 :: Introduction Top

"Neurological complications, apart from those due to cerebral haemorrhage, are sufficiently rare in acute leukemia for them to be reported as curiosities. An awareness of them is important, though they are not likely to be met with fre­quently." (Gunz and Baikie, 1974).

Leukemia may present with meningi­tis, encephalitis, hemiplegia, paraplegia, convulsions or involvement of either cranial or peripheral nerves, motor or sensory. A case of acute myeloid leukemia presenting as compression paraplegia of acute onset is presented here.

 :: Case history Top

A 16 years old boy was transferred from another hospital with history of weakness of both lower limbs and inabi­lity to walk for 10 days. He had back­ache for 3 days prior to weakness. There was no history of trauma to back. He did not have root pains. There was no bladder and bowel involvement.

He was an averagely built and nou­rished person with mild pallor of nails and conjunctiva. Lymphadenopathy, oedema of legs and bony tenderness were absent.

Central nervous system examination revealed, marked hypotonia with com­plete loss of movements of both lower limbs. All sensations were markedly im­paired below T 8 level. Deep reflexes in upper limbs were normally elicit­able. Knee jerks were barely elicitable, while ankle and planter reflexes were absent. Abdominal and cremasteric re­flexes were also absent.

Examination of abdomen revealed a hard lump, about 5 c ms. x 5 cms. in size, in left lumbar region. It was freely mobile and non-tender. Liver and spleen were not palpable. This lump was not noticed when patient was examined at the other hospital 2 weeks before.

Per rectal examination showed hard nodular masses in anterior rectal wall.

Haemoglobin and white cell counts done at the other hospital were within normal limits; sedimentation rate was 70 mm. at the end of one hour. CSF exa­mination showed proteins to be 900 mg%, with no other abnormal findings. Myelo­gram showed a block at T 12 , level.

Cisternal myelogram was done and showed upper level of block at T 4 level indicating the extent of the block from T 4 -T 12 level. CSF obtained from this site was within normal limits. Haemo­gram on admission, showed Haemoglobin of 4.6 gm%, packed cell volume 21%, sedimentation rate 140 mm. at the end of 1 hour, WBC count 27000/cmm. with plenty of myeloblasts in peripheral smear. Bone marrow smear was full of blast cells.

With these findings a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia was estab­lished. Patient expired within 3 weeks of diagnosis.

 :: Discussion Top

Involvement of the nervous system by leukemia may take many forms. The first known account was by Allan Burns, and was published in 1811. His case 16 usually regarded as one of Chloroma, arising in the bones of skull (Gunz and Baikie, 1974).

Careful examination of anatomical, pathological and clinical aspects of ne­vous system involvement in leukemia has led to the recognition of several clinical pictures, known collectively as neuro­leukemic affections (d'Ermo and Levi, 1972). Neurological involvement is more common in acute than in chronic leu­kemia and commoner in acute lymphatic than in acute myeloid type. Infants are more frequently afflicted with neurologi­cal complications than children or adults and males are more commonly affected than females.

Neuropathology of leukemia discloses chiefly:

(A) Impaction of blood vessels with leukemic cells.

(B) Infiltration of blood vessel walls with leukemic cells. The blood vessels may be in meninges, brain parenchyma or peripheral nerves (Firkin and Moore, 1960; Moore et al, 1960; Wells and Silver, 1957).

Thus, vascular stasis, ischaemia, occlu­sion, haemorrhage and edema occur in the affected tissues.

Leukemia shows clinical neurologic involvement as intracranial haemorrhage, non-haemorrhagic cerebral involvement, meningeal leukemia or infection Fritz et al, 1959; Gilbert and Rice, 1957; Hunt et al, 1959 and Sullivan, 1957). Rarely, spinal root and cord syndromes, cranial nerve palsies and peripheral nerve lesions may manifest.

Leukemias give rise to spinal cord in­volvement due to vertebral destruction, epidural leukemic masses, haemorrhage, myelomalacia or demyelinization. In a series reported by Wilhyde et al, spinal cord involvement was the presenting manifestation of 'leukemia in 28 out of 42 cases; progressive paraplegia was the commonest feature (Wilhyde et al, 1963).

Occasionally, chloroma of vertebra is the causative factor giving rise to com­pression of spinal cord. Chloroma is rare feature of acute or subacute myeloid leukemia, seen in children or young adults, affecting males 2:1. It presents a--­single or multiple green-hued tumour masses, consisting of immature leukemic cells and pigments, growing in subperio­steum or marrow. Such masses commonly appear in orbit or any where on skull, including air sinuses and mastoid. Spine, sacrum and ribs are not unusual sites. X-Ray discloses local erosion and cortical thinning. These masses never invade dura but may compress at extradural or peripheral nerve sites (Aita, 1964; Rao et al, 1962).

 :: Acknowledgements Top

Thanks are due to the Dean, K. E. M.Hospital, Bombay-12 for permission to report this case.[12]

 :: References Top

1.Aita, J. A. (1964): Leukemias, Lympho­mas (and other myeloproliferative diseases). Chapter 5 in "Neurologic Manifestations of General Diseases". Springfield, Illinois, Thomas Book. 1964, Pages 266-293.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Firkin, B. and Moore, C. V. (1960): Clini­cal manifestations of leukemia. Amer. J. Med. 28: 764-766.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Fritz, R. D., Forkner, C. E. Jr., Frei­reich, E. J. Frei, E. III, and Thomas, L. B. (1959): The association of fatal intracranial haemorrhage and "blast cri­sis" in patients with acute leukemia. New England, J. Med., 261: 59-64.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Gilbert, E. F. and Rice, E. C. (1957): Neurologic manifestations of leukemia. Report of three cases in children, simulat­ing acute bacterial meningitis. Pediatrics, 19: 801-809.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Gunz, F. and Baikie, A. G. (1974): Clinical and laboratory features of leuke­mias; chapter 10 in "Leukemia". New York; Grunne and Straton. 1974, Pages 282-283.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6.Hunt, E. W., Bouroncle, B. A. and Meagher, J. N. (1959): Neurologic complications of leukemias and lymphomas. J. Neurosurgery, 16: 135-151.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Moore, E. W., Thomas, L. B., Shaw R. K. and Freireich, E. J. (1960): The cen­tral nervous system in acute leukemia. Arch. Int. Med. 105: 451-438.  Back to cited text no. 7    
8.Nello, d'Eramo and Mario Levi (1972): Neurological Symptoms in Leukemia; Chapter 6 in "Neurological Symptoms in Blood Diseases". London; Harvey, Miller and Medcalf, 1972. Pages 100-141.  Back to cited text no. 8    
9.Rao, A. M., Gokarn, K. D. and Desh­pande, D. H. (1962): Chloroma, a case report. J. Postgrad. Med. 8, 33-37.  Back to cited text no. 9    
10.Sullivan, M. P. (1957): Intracranial complications of leukemia in children. Pediatrics, 20: 757-781.  Back to cited text no. 10    
11.Well, C. E. and Silver, R. T. (1957): The neurological manifestations of acute leu­kemia, Ann. Int. Med. 46: 439-449.  Back to cited text no. 11    
12.Wilhyde, D. E., Jane, J. A. and Mullan, S. (1963): Spinal epidural leukemia. Amer. J. Med. 34: 281-287.  Back to cited text no. 12    


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