Ecstasy abuse linked to spinal artery rupture

Ecstasy abuse has been linked to a potentially fatal weakening and rupture of the spinal cord artery.

Posterior spinal artery aneurysms — a blood-filled swelling of the spinal cord artery, are rare.

However, doctors in the US discovered one of these aneurysms in a previously healthy teenager who had taken ecstasy or MDMA.

The case report, published in the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery, is one of a number of neurological complications now linked with the street drug, including stroke. Ecstasy acts on the sympathetic nervous system, sparking a sudden hike in blood pressure, as a result of the surge in serotonin.

Doctors are concerned the drug could make any pre-existing aneurysms or other arterial abnormalities prone to rupture.

The day after taking the drug, the teenager woke up with a headache, neck pain and muscle spasms. The symptoms worsened after a week and he sought help at his emergency department.

He was later transferred to a specialist neurosurgical unit that showed an aneurysm on the left of the spinal cord artery at the back of his neck. It was successfully removed, along with the weakened part of the artery. The teen made a full recovery.


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