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A 78-year-old man presented to the accident and emergency department following sudden onset of back pain, with attendant loss of power and sensation in the lower half of his body and urinary retention. Onset occurred while he was seated in a chair and he fell as he tried to get up. Neurological examination revealed symmetrical lower motor weakness (MRC grade 4/5) in both lower limbs with downgoing plantar reflexes. There was a clear sensory boundary at D4 with loss of joint position and sensation to light touch below this level. Rectal examination was unremarkable. While a CT head scan was normal, spinal MRI showed multilevel disc desiccations in the dorsal and lumbar spine. Additionally, in the dorsal spine at D4/5, there was a thin plaque of epidural tissue representing an epidural haematoma. Within 48–72 h the patient gradually and spontaneously regained full power.