Lipomatosis of nerve (LN) is a massive enlargement of a nerve due to abundant proliferation of adipose and fibrotic tissue within the epineurium—part of the spectrum of adipose lesions of nerves, including intra- and extraneural lipomas. LN has been frequently associated with soft-tissue and/or osseous overgrowth. Unfortunately, much confusion exists since many names have been used for LN (e.g., fibrolipomatous hamartoma, macrodystrophia lipomatosa, and so on). To better understand this condition and to evaluate its association with nerve-territory overgrowth, the authors attempted to compile the world’s literature on published LN cases.
PubMed and Google Scholar databases were searched to identify published articles on LN cases, using a variety of terms. Publications in all languages were assessed. All publications with cases determined likely to be LN were read. Cases that provided clear clinicopathological and/or radiological evidence of LN were labeled as “definite” and cases that demonstrated features of LN (e.g., nerve-territory overgrowth) but lacked definite proof of nerve involvement were labeled as “probable.”
Initial screening revealed a total of 2465 papers. After exclusions, 281 publications reported cases with a definite diagnosis of LN and 120 articles reported cases with a probable diagnosis of LN. The authors identified 618 definite and 407 probable cases of LN. Sex distribution was balanced (51% female). Early diagnosis was common, with two-thirds of patients having symptoms in the 1st decade of life. The most commonly affected nerve was the median nerve (n = 391). Nerve-territory overgrowth was common (62% definite LN; 78% combined cases); overgrowth was exclusive to the territory of the affected nerve in all cases but 5.
The authors present a comprehensive review and analysis of the literature of LN cases. One of the main findings was the nerve-territory overgrowth was associated with LN, especially when present earlier in life. The authors believe that all cases of LN associated with overgrowth can be explained on anatomical grounds, even in the few reported cases in which this is not immediately obvious.