A common yet undescribed MRI finding in newborns: posterior epidural space edema of the cervical and upper thoracic spine

Arda H. Ceylan, Can Özütemiz, Haitao Huang, Christopher Luedemann, Nathan Rubin, David R. Nascene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Posterior spinal epidural space (PSES) is a fat-containing space. We noted numerous spinal MRIs demonstrating T2-hyperintense thickening of the cervical/thoracic PSES in early newborns, resembling epidural edema. Our aim is to describe the appearance/frequency of this finding and explore any associations with delivery. Methods: Retrospectively, 202 spinal/cranial MRIs, belonging to newborns within the first 2 weeks of life, were evaluated using sagittal fat-suppressed T2, T1-FLAIR, and STIR. Exclusion criteria were motion, incomplete spine imaging, lack of sagittal T2/STIR, and inadequate clinical data. Ninety-three patients were included in the final analysis. We reviewed all cases for T2 hyperintense thickened PSES and, if present, accompanying abnormal T1 signal. The spinal canal and PSES thickness were measured. Clinical and demographic data were collected. Follow-up exams were evaluated, if available. Cases with thickened PSES and without were compared. Results: T2-hyperintense thickened PSES was present in 60/93 (64.5%). Mean PSES thickness was 2.3 mm (0.7–4.6). The mean PSES thickness/spinal canal diameter ratio was 0.2 (0.1–0.5). No cord compression was identified. One had a hyperintense T1 PSES signal, compatible with epidural hemorrhage. No difference was found between those with thickened PSES and without, regarding sex, gestational age, birth weight, birth method, difficult delivery, fetal position, or neurologic status (p>0.05). Follow-up imaging was available in 10, with complete resolution of T2 hyperintense PSES thickening. Conclusion: T2 hyperintense PSES thickening is common in imaged newborns and reversible at follow-up. No significant neurologic outcomes were found related to its presence; thus, follow-up does not appear necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-379
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Early online dateAug 18 2021
StatePublished - Aug 18 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Epidural edema
  • Epidural hematoma
  • Epidural space
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Newborn
  • Spine

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


Dive into the research topics of 'A common yet undescribed MRI finding in newborns: posterior epidural space edema of the cervical and upper thoracic spine'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this