Spinal cord herniation is a relatively rare but increasingly recognized clinical entity, with fewer than 200 cases reported in the literature to date. The etiology of this condition remains unknown, and surgery is used as the primary treatment to correct the herniation and consequent spinal cord compromise. Some patients without clinical progression have been treated with nonoperative measures, including careful follow-up and symptomatic physical therapy. To date, however, there has been no published report on the resolution of spinal cord herniation without surgical intervention.
The patient in the featured case is a 58-year-old man who presented with mild thoracic myelopathy and imaging findings consistent with idiopathic spinal cord herniation. Surprisingly, updated MRI studies, obtained to better delineate the pathology, showed spontaneous resolution of the herniation. Subsequent MRI 6 months later revealed continued resolution of the previous spinal cord herniation.
This is the first report of spontaneous resolution of a spinal cord herniation in the literature. At present, the treatment of this disorder is individualized, with microsurgical correction used in patients with progressive neurological impairment. The featured case highlights the potential variability in the natural history of this condition and supports considering an initial trial of nonoperative management for patients with mild, nonprogressive neurological deficits.