Episodic itch in a case of spinal glioma
Department of Neurology and Epileptology, Hertie-Institute for Clinical Brain Research, University of Tuebingen, Hoppe-Seyler-Str.3, Tuebingen 72076, Germany
BMC Neurology 2013, 13:124 doi:10.1186/1471-2377-13-124Published: 23 September 2013
Itch is a frequent complaint reported by patients and is usually ascribed to dermatological or metabolic causes. In neurological disorders, however, it is a very unusual symptom and thus its neurological aetiology is likely to be overlooked. There are only very few reports about permanent itch related to lesions of the central nervous system. To our knowledge we report the first case of episodic itch associated with a central nervous lesion.
A 74-year-old female suffered from long-standing episodes of itch of the dermatomes C2 to C6 on the right side that was refractory to any treatment. On occurrence it propagated in a proximal to distal fashion. Between the episodes the patient was asymptomatic. MRI of the cervical spine uncovered a spinal glioma that matched the location of the symptoms. Treatment with gabapentin led to a prompt reduction of the symptoms.
Patients with intractable pruritus and dermatomal presentation ought to undergo neurological examination and spinal cord imaging. Thus, ongoing frustrating and sometimes even harmful treatment trials could be avoided.