Reversal of lifelong mutism after anterior cervical discectomy and fusion for myelopathy.
A 34-year-old man with a history of spina bifida occulta, fetal alcohol syndrome and mutism presented with an acute on chronic decline of unsteady gait and right arm and leg weakness over the period of a few months. The patient was non-verbal and communicated using hand gestures. MRI of the cervical spine showed severe stenosis at C4-5 with T2 signal abnormalities. Brain MRI demonstrated mild ventriculomegaly. The patient underwent an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion for severe cervical spine stenosis. Postoperatively the patient's myelopathic symptoms improved. He also became verbal and engaged in conversation. Ten months after surgery, the patient who had previously been non-verbal had developed a vocabulary of more than 50 words.