Pregnancy-related vertebral hemangioma

Case report, review of the literature, and management algorithm

John H. Chi M.D., M.P.H., Geoffrey T. Manley M.D., Ph.D., and Dean Chou M.D.
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  • Department of Neurological Surgery, San Francisco General Hospital, University of California, San Francisco, California
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Pregnancy is a recognized risk factor for quiescent vertebral hemangiomas becoming symptomatic; this usually occurs during the 3rd month of gestation. The natural history of these lesions is poorly understood, and treatment practices must consider the overall safety of the mother and fetus. The authors report a case of cervical vertebral hemangioma presenting during the 24th week of pregnancy and review the current literature.

A 26-year-old woman in her 24th week of pregnancy presented with upper-back pain and progressive spastic paresis in the legs. Neuroimaging studies revealed a diffuse C-7 vertebral body lesion with extradural extension and compression of the spinal cord consistent with a vertebral hemangioma. Successful decompression was accomplished, and the fetus experienced no adverse effects from the surgery.

In a review of the literature, 23 cases of pregnancy-related vertebral hemangioma dating back to 1927 were identified. Prepartum surgical decompression was performed in eight patients, postpartum surgery was performed in 12, and surgery was not performed in four. Overall, patients experienced excellent neurological recovery, regardless of the severity and duration of spastic paresis.

Observation should be considered for symptomatic patients at greater than 32 weeks gestation. Surgery should be considered for patients with severe neurological deficits at less than 32 weeks of gestation.

Abbreviations used in this paper:

CT = computerized tomography; MR = magnetic resonance.

Pregnancy is a recognized risk factor for quiescent vertebral hemangiomas becoming symptomatic; this usually occurs during the 3rd month of gestation. The natural history of these lesions is poorly understood, and treatment practices must consider the overall safety of the mother and fetus. The authors report a case of cervical vertebral hemangioma presenting during the 24th week of pregnancy and review the current literature.

A 26-year-old woman in her 24th week of pregnancy presented with upper-back pain and progressive spastic paresis in the legs. Neuroimaging studies revealed a diffuse C-7 vertebral body lesion with extradural extension and compression of the spinal cord consistent with a vertebral hemangioma. Successful decompression was accomplished, and the fetus experienced no adverse effects from the surgery.

In a review of the literature, 23 cases of pregnancy-related vertebral hemangioma dating back to 1927 were identified. Prepartum surgical decompression was performed in eight patients, postpartum surgery was performed in 12, and surgery was not performed in four. Overall, patients experienced excellent neurological recovery, regardless of the severity and duration of spastic paresis.

Observation should be considered for symptomatic patients at greater than 32 weeks gestation. Surgery should be considered for patients with severe neurological deficits at less than 32 weeks of gestation.

Abbreviations used in this paper:

CT = computerized tomography; MR = magnetic resonance.

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