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Open access

Phantom limb pain, traumatic neuroma, or nerve sheath tumor? Illustrative case

Patrick J Halloran, E. Antonio Chiocca, and Andres Santos

BACKGROUND

Phantom limb pain and traumatic neuromas are not commonly seen in neurosurgical practice. These conditions can present with similar symptoms; however, management of traumatic neuroma is often surgical, whereas phantom limb pain is treated with conservative measures.

OBSERVATIONS

A 77-year-old female patient with a long-standing history of an above-the-knee amputation experienced severe pain in her right posterior buttocks area for several years’ duration, attributed to phantom limb pain, which radiated down the stump of her leg and was treated with a variety of conservative measures. A recent exacerbation of her pain led to a prolonged hospitalization with magnetic resonance imaging of her leg stump, revealing a mass in the sciatic notch, at a relative distance from the stump. The anatomical location of the mass on the sciatic nerve in the notch led to a presumed radiological diagnosis of nerve sheath tumor, for which she underwent excision. At surgery, a neuroma of the proximal portion of the transected sciatic nerve that had retracted from the amputated stump to the notch was diagnosed.

LESSONS

Traumatic neuromas of transected major nerves after limb amputation should be considered in the differential diagnosis of phantom limb pain.

Open access

Spinal cord stimulation for chronic pain treatment following sacral chordoma resection: illustrative case

Khaled M Taghlabi, Taimur Hassan, Isuru A Somawardana, Sibi Rajendran, Ahmed Doomi, Lokeshwar S Bhenderu, Jesus G Cruz-Garza, and Amir H Faraji

BACKGROUND

Cancer-related or postoperative pain can occur following sacral chordoma resection. Despite a lack of current recommendations for cancer pain treatment, spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has demonstrated effectiveness in addressing cancer-related pain.

OBSERVATIONS

A 76-year-old female with a sacral chordoma underwent anterior osteotomies and partial en bloc sacrectomy. She subsequently presented with chronic pain affecting both buttocks and posterior thighs and legs, significantly impeding her daily activities. She underwent a staged epidural SCS paddle trial and permanent system placement using intraoperative neuromonitoring. The utilization of percutaneous leads was not viable because of her history of spinal fluid leakage, multiple lumbosacral surgeries, and previous complex plastic surgery closure. The patient reported a 62.5% improvement in her lower-extremity pain per the modified Quadruple Visual Analog Scale and a 50% improvement in the modified Pain and Sleep Questionnaire 3-item index during the SCS trial. Following permanent SCS system placement and removal of her externalized lead extenders, she had an uncomplicated postoperative course and reported notable improvements in her pain symptoms.

LESSONS

This case provides a compelling illustration of the successful treatment of chronic pain using SCS following radical sacral chordoma resection. Surgeons may consider this treatment approach in patients presenting with refractory pain following spinal tumor resection.