An approach to the management of fever of unknown origin in the setting of acute spinal cord injury

Brian R. Connolly, Jeannie K. Harden

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Introduction: Discovering the source of a patient’s fever, in the absence of clinical localizing signs, can be a formidable undertaking. Without a clear symptom pattern to narrow the focus of a diagnostic workup, this task can require numerous noninvasive and invasive procedures, imaging studies, and laboratory tests to arrive at a conclusion. Identifying the source of a patient’s fever in the setting of an acute spinal cord injury can present a unique challenge because this population is at risk for many different conditions that can cause fever, some of which are rarely seen in the general population. Case presentation: This case report describes a unique case and diagnostic workup of fever of unknown origin in a 51-year-old male with multiple medical comorbidities who presented to an inpatient rehabilitation service following an acute traumatic cervical spinal cord injury. Ultimately, it was determined that the patient had several different factors that were causing him to have intermittent fevers over a 5-week period. Discussion: This case demonstrates the importance of obtaining serial medical histories and physical examinations during the investigation for fever of unknown origin. It also supports why additional workup of a patient’s fever may need to be considered even after a potential source is found. Finally, it demonstrates the need for increased awareness of quadriplegic fever so that this condition can be more effectively recognized, prevented, and managed in the future.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number19
    JournalSpinal Cord Series and Cases
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Dec 2021

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Neurology
    • Clinical Neurology


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