RATIONALE: Spontaneous spinal subdural hematoma (SSDH) is a rare disease that can cause severe permanent neurological dysfunction. Here we present a case of spontaneous SSDH, in which a series of magnetic resonance images (MRIs) taken through the course of the disease facilitated understanding of the resolution process of the hematoma and the diagnosis of SSDH. PATIENT CONCERNS: A 59-year-old male presented with sudden severe back pain and rapid onset of paraplegia. This symptom had continued developing while he was transferred to the emergency department. Initial physical examination showed flaccid paralysis of both lower limbs with areflexia and loss of all sensation below T6 bilaterally. MRI images showed an anterior subdural hematoma from C7 to T7 with spinal cord compression. DIAGNOSIS: Based on MRI findings, the diagnosis was SSDH. INTERVENTIONS: We chose conservative treatment of 1-week bed rest and intensive rehabilitation for the patient due to the presence of sacral sparing and the slight motor recovery at 24 hours after the onset. OUTCOMES: Frequent MRI images demonstrated that the spinal cord compression was surprisingly mitigated only 2 days and mostly absorbed 4 days after the onset. The patient's motor function was recovered completely and he was discharged after 8 weeks of hospitalization. LESSONS: Our chronological MRI findings provide crucial information for diagnosing SSDH and also suggest that spinal surgeons should consider the potential option of a conservative approach for treating SSDH. Although prompt selection of a therapeutic strategy for SSDH could be challenging, the surgeons could observe the course of the patient's neurological status for a few days to detect signs of spontaneous recovery.
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