Subacute combined degeneration of the spinal cord is a disorder that involves
Subacute combined degeneration of the spinal cord; SCD
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Subacute combined degeneration of the spinal cord is caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency. (For specific information on vitamin B12 deficiency, see the article on
Subacute combined degeneration primarily affects the spinal cord, but it can also damage the brain, the nerves of the eye, and the
How a lack of vitamin B12 damages nerves is unclear. However, experts believe the lack of this vitamin causes abnormal fatty acids to form around cells and nerves.
You have a higher risk for this condition if you cannot absorb vitamin B12 from the intestines or if you have:
- Pernicious anemia
- Disorders of the small intestine, including
Malabsorptiveconditions, which can occur after gastrointestinal surgery
Review Date: 06/25/2009
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.