A child with cryptogenic cirrhosis underwent a third session of elective sclerotherapy. Endoscopic therapy consisted of intravascular injection of ethanolamine oleate in varices newly developed at the midesophagus level. Irreversible paraplegia was documented within 8 hr postoperatively. Two years later she eventually died from gastrointestinal bleeding. Autopsy findings were compatible with an infarct of the spinal cord secondary to an occlusion of the anterior spinal artery. Various hypotheses which might explain the passage of the sclerosing material from the esophagus to the anterior spinal artery include: arterial occlusion secondary to venous thrombosis and spinal cord necrosis, accidental injection in an intercostal artery or azygous vein through the esophageal wall, the presence of a congenital arteriovenous fistula or the opening of arteriovenous shunt. Paravasal injection of dilute sclerosing agent might protect against this unusual but dramatic complication.
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