Radiculopathy in the setting of lumbar nerve root compression due to an extradural intraforaminal lipoma: a report of 3 cases

Daniel B. Loriaux Division of Neurosurgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina

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Owoicho Adogwa Division of Neurosurgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina

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Oren N. Gottfried Division of Neurosurgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina

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A true adult spinal lipoma is an exceedingly rare cause of lumbar compression neuropathy. Only 5 cases of true extradural intraforaminal lipomas have been documented in the medical literature. The diagnostic criteria and treatment guidelines for this specific lipoma have yet to be established. This report features 3 histologically confirmed cases of extradural intraforaminal spinal lipomas that recently presented to the authors’ practice. In addition, the literature was surveyed to include the 5 previously reported cases of true adult extradural intraforaminal spinal lipomas. The consistency in presentation, response to surgical intervention, and postoperative recovery in these 8 cases supports surgical intervention at the time of diagnosis. The authors’ findings support elevated clinical suspicion, efficient diagnosis based on MRI, and early surgical intervention for this rare pathological entity. All cases presented in this report were symptomatic and occurred in the absence of other significant pathologies such as general spinal epidural lipomatosis, intradural lesions, tethering, or severe degenerative stenosis or herniated discs. The clinical, neuroradiological, and histological findings characteristic of a true adult extradural intraforaminal lipoma are emphasized to differentiate this lesion from the more common etiologies for lumbar compression neuropathy. Heightened awareness and clinical suspicion for the focal, foraminal spinal lipoma as a cause of radiculopathy symptoms will enable more efficient diagnosis and treatment.

ABBREVIATION

SEL = spinal epidural lipomatosis.
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