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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Fibrocartilaginous embolism

Other Names for this Disease
  • Embolism, fibrocartilaginous
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What causes a fibrocartilaginous embolism?

Fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE) is a rare cause of spinal cord infarction (stroke). It is thought that a sudden vertical disk herniation of the nucleus pulposus material can lead to spinal cord infarction by backward movement of the material, disrupting the vascular supply and causing embolization in the artery.[1] Conditions resulting in high internal pressure, such as a Valsalva maneuver or trauma, may permit the abnormal backwards flow.[2] Some individuals have reported lifting, physical exertion, minor trauma, or Valsalva maneuver before severe spinal cord infarction.[2]
Last updated: 3/24/2011

  1. Han JJ, Massagli TL, Jaffe KM.. Fibrocartilaginous embolism--an uncommon cause of spinal cord infarction: a case report and review of the literature. Archives of Physical Medincine and Rehabilitation. January 2004; 85(1):153-157. Accessed 3/23/2011.
  2. F. J. Mateena,b, P. A. Monradb, A. N. Leep Hunderfundb, C. E. Robertsonb and E. J. Sorenson. Clinically suspected fibrocartilaginous embolism: clinical characteristics, treatments, and outcomes. European Journal of Neurology. 2011; 18:218-225.