Retethering risk in pediatric spinal lipoma of the conus medullaris

Toshiaki Hayashi MD, PhD1, Tomomi Kimiwada MD, PhD1, Reizo Shirane MD, PhD1, and Teiji Tominaga MD, PhD2
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  • 1 Department of Neurosurgery, Miyagi Children’s Hospital, Sendai; and
  • | 2 Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Sendai, Japan
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OBJECTIVE

Lipoma of the conus medullaris (LCM) causes neurological symptoms known as tethered cord syndrome (TCS). The symptoms can be seen at diagnosis and during long-term follow-up. In this report, pediatric patients with LCMs who underwent untethering surgery, under the policy of performing surgery if diagnosed regardless of symptoms, were retrospectively reviewed to evaluate long-term surgical outcomes. Possible risk factors for retethered cord syndrome (ReTCS) were evaluated in the long-term follow-up period.

METHODS

A total of 51 consecutive pediatric patients with LCMs who underwent a first untethering surgery and were followed for > 100 months were retrospectively analyzed. The surgery was performed with the partial removal technique. Pre- and postoperative clinical and radiological data were reviewed to analyze the outcomes of surgery and identify potential risk factors for ReTCS.

RESULTS

During follow-up, 12 patients experienced neurological deterioration due to ReTCS. The overall 10-year and 15-year progression-free survival rates were 82.3% and 75.1%, respectively. On univariate analysis, a lipoma type of lipomyelomeningocele (OR 11, 95% CI 2.50–48.4; p = 0.0014), patient age at the time of surgery (OR 0.41, 95% CI 0.14–1.18; p = 0.0070), and the mean patient growth rate after surgery (OR 2.00, 95% CI 1.12–3.41; p = 0.0040) were significant factors associated with ReTCS. Cox proportional hazard models showed that a lipoma type of lipomyelomeningocele (HR 5.16, 95% CI 1.54–20.1; p = 0.010) and the mean growth rate after surgery (HR 1.88, 95% CI 1.00–3.50; p = 0.040) were significantly associated with the occurrence of ReTCS.

CONCLUSIONS

More complex lesions and a high patient growth rate after surgery seemed to indicate increased risk of ReTCS. Larger prospective studies and registries are needed to define the risks of ReTCS more adequately.

ABBREVIATIONS

AUC = area under the curve; KM = Kaplan-Meier; LCM = lipoma of the conus medullaris; PFS = progression-free survival; ReTCS = retethered cord syndrome; ROC = receiver operating characteristic; TCS = tethered cord syndrome.

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