Myelopathy Due to Copper Deficiency Following Gastrointestinal Surgery | Gastrointestinal Surgery | JAMA Neurology | JAMA Network
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December 2003

Myelopathy Due to Copper Deficiency Following Gastrointestinal Surgery

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

Arch Neurol. 2003;60(12):1782-1785. doi:10.1001/archneur.60.12.1782

Background  Ataxic myelopathy due to copper deficiency has been described in ruminant animals and is called swayback. Neurological manifestations due to inherited copper deficiency secondary to the failure of intestinal copper absorption is well recognized as Menkes disease. The neurological consequences of acquired copper deficiency in humans are not well described.

Objective  To report 2 cases where patients developed a myelopathy with copper deficiency after gastrointestinal surgery.

Patients  Two patients developed a myelopathy many years after gastrointestinal surgery. Both had severe copper deficiency, which was the likely cause of the myelopathy.

Conclusions  Acquired copper deficiency may present as a myelopathy. Gastrointestinal surgery and resulting decreased copper absorption may be causative.