Intramedullary spinal cord lipomas

M. Lee, A. R. Rezai, R. Abbott, D. H. Coelho, F. J. Epstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Spinal cord lipomas am rare lesions, accounting for approximately 1% of all spinal cord tumors. True intramedullary spinal cord lipomas are extremely rare and are represented in the literature as scattered, single case reports. The authors present a series of six patients with intramedullary spinal cord lipomas managed at our institution from July, 1985 to July, 1993. The patients' ages ranged from 8 to 45 years. Four patients presented with newly diagnosed tumors and two had undergone previous surgery. Patients usually presented with long histories of disability followed by rapid progression of their symptoms. Most patients were in poor neurological condition on presentation. Presenting symptoms included spinal pain, dysesthetic sensory changes, gait difficulties, weakness, and incontinence. Three patients had cervical tumors, two had cervicothoracic tumors, and one patient had a thoracic tumor. Diagnostic studies, including magnetic resonance imaging, were obtained in all patients. No patient exhibited any form of spinal dysraphism or had a dural defect. All patients underwent decompressive, subtotal resections of 40% to 70% of their lesions. Follow-up times ranged from 12 to 96 months. All patients had resolution of their pain, but they generally showed no neurological improvement. As of their most recent follow- up visit, none of the patients was neurologically normal; three can function independently, although with neurological deficits. The other three patients cannot function independently and have severe neurological deficits. The authors conclude that patients with intramedullary spinal cord lipoma who present with significant neurological compromise have a very poor prognosis with regard to neurological function and generally show no improvement with surgical resection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-400
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • intramedullary spinal cord lipoma
  • intramedullary spinal cord tumor
  • lipoma
  • spinal cord
  • spinal cord lipoma
  • spinal cord tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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