Penetrating thoracic spinal cord injury with ice pick extending into the aorta. A technical note and review of the literature

Rani Nasser, Jonathan Nakhla, Saadat Shariff, Merritt D. Kinon, Reza Yassari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Penetrating spinal cord injuries pose a great challenge to both patients and the treating physicians. Although the overall incidence of penetrating spinal cord injury is the highest in the military, the ubiquity of guns in our society continues to make penetrating spinal cord injury prevalent in the civilian population. These types of injuries are particularly complicated because, beyond the trauma to the neural elements and supporting structures, other organs can be affected and a team approach is required for successful treatment. Case Description: In this report, the authors present a unique case of an ice pick penetrating posteriorly through the spinal canal into the aorta. The described surgical management involved careful consideration and planning to prevent worsening vascular and neurological compromise. Among the challenges faced are neurological compromise, vascular injury, spinal instability, and cerebrospinal fluid leak. Conclusion: To the author′s knowledge, this challenging case represents the first description of a successful removal of a penetrating thoracic spinal foreign body that terminated within the lumen of the thoracic aorta.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S763-S766
JournalSurgical Neurology International
Issue number29
StatePublished - 2016



  • Aorta
  • penetrating trauma
  • thoracic spine
  • vascular injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

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