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What is spinal cord edema?

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Quick Answer

Spinal cord edema is swelling due to excess fluids collecting in the spinal canal, either inside or outside the spinal cord. This swelling is often the result of injury or disease and may cause further damage to the spine, according to The New York Times.

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Full Answer

The soft tissue of the spinal cord is usually protected by the bones that form the spinal or vertebral canal, notes The New York Times. Edema is caused by the leaking of small blood vessels into the soft tissues, as well as the inability of the lymphatic system to drain accumulated fluids, the Mayo Clinic explains.

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