Surfer’s myelopathy: a rare presentation in a non-surfing setting and review of the literature

Monish M. Maharaj, Kevin Phan, Soumya Hariswamy, Prashanth J. Rao


Background: Surfers myelopathy can be a rapidly devastating disease and little is known surrounding the pathophysiology of the condition. Although the classical pattern of illness has been well reported, it has never been observed in a non-surfing setting.
Methods: A 51-year-old demolition worker presented with acute non-traumatic myelopathy. Clinical examination revealed sensory loss to the level of L2. T2-MRI and MRI-DWI revealed a hyperintense signal suggestive of an ischaemic event. A diagnosis of surfer’s myelopathy was made and he was commenced on steroid therapy.
Results: Following steroid therapy and fluid management the patient was discharged after 6 days with minor anaethesia but significant overall neurological improvement.
Conclusions: Diagnosis of SM requires a thorough history, clinical examination and imaging (MRI, MRI-DWI). The patient should be admitted early and investigated. The use of rehabilitation services may be useful if available.