Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
 Open access journal indexed with Index Medicus & ISI's SCI  
Users online: 765  
Home | Subscribe | Feedback | Login 
About Latest Articles Back-Issues Articlesmenu-bullet Search Instructions Online Submission Subscribe Etcetera Contact
 :: Next article
 :: Previous article 
 :: Table of Contents
 ::  Similar in PUBMED
 ::  Search Pubmed for
 ::  Search in Google Scholar for
 ::Related articles
 ::  Article in PDF (14 KB)
 ::  Citation Manager
 ::  Access Statistics
 ::  Reader Comments
 ::  Email Alert *
 ::  Add to My List *
* Registration required (free) 

  IN THIS Article
 ::  Abstract
 ::  Introduction
 ::  Case report
 ::  References

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded128    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 5    

Recommend this journal


Year : 1995  |  Volume : 41  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 85-6

Extradural lipomatosis presenting with paraplegia.

Department of Neurosurgery, KEM Hospital, Parel, Mumbai.

Correspondence Address:
M Deogaonkar
Department of Neurosurgery, KEM Hospital, Parel, Mumbai.

Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 0010707723

Rights and PermissionsRights and Permissions

 :: Abstract 

An unusual case with spinal extradural lipomatosis in a non-obese and otherwise healthy man is reported. The patient presented with a history of weakness of legs which progressed to paraplegia over a 40 day period.

Keywords: Adult, Case Report, Human, Laminectomy, Lipomatosis, complications,diagnosis,surgery,Male, Myelography, Paraplegia, etiology,Spinal Diseases, complications,diagnosis,surgery,Thoracic Vertebrae, surgery,Treatment Outcome,

How to cite this article:
Deogaonkar M, Goel A, Tingare K, Dahiwadkar H, Nagpal R. Extradural lipomatosis presenting with paraplegia. J Postgrad Med 1995;41:85

How to cite this URL:
Deogaonkar M, Goel A, Tingare K, Dahiwadkar H, Nagpal R. Extradural lipomatosis presenting with paraplegia. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 1995 [cited 2023 Jun 2];41:85. Available from:

  ::   Introduction Top

Extradural lipomatosis is a pathological overgrowth of normal fat. Most of the reported cases of spinal lipomatosis are usually associated with long-term steroid administration or obesity[1],[2]. Idiopathic extradural lipomatosis is very rare[3], and our case belongs to this particular group. The usual presentation is with pain, paraesthesiae and/or paraparesis[4]. In the literature search, we failed to come across any report in which a patient with lipomatosis presented with paraplegia.

  ::   Case report Top

A 20-year-old male patient presented with a 40 day history of progressive numbness and tingling paraesthesiae in the legs with weakness of both legs and incontinence of urine and stools. He had moderate grade fever for 2 days prior to the onset of symptoms. He had become paraplegic 2 days prior to admission. When admitted, he had flaccid paraplegia with a complete sensory loss below the level of the 4th thoracic dermatome. A lumbar myelogram was unsuccessful due to extradural extravasation of the contrast. Myelogram following lateral cervical injection of the contrast revealed block to caudal flow of contrast at 6-7 thoracic level. The block suggested a posterior extradural lesion. The patient was taken up for emergency surgery. The presence of a thick layer of extradural fat (much more than usual) from 5th to 9th thoracic levels was an unexpected finding. A wide laminectomy with as much excision of the lipomatous tissue as possible was carried out. At the end of the excision, the dural tube was pulsatile. Histo-logical examination confirmed the presence of normal fat [Figure:2]. During the 10 day post-operative period in the hospital, he showed no recovery. He has unfortunately not returned for a follow-up evaluation, Discussion

Histologically, extradural lipomatosis is a condition which involves excessive growth of normal extradural fat. Lee et al first reported a case of spinal lipomatosis in 1975[5]. Since then, there have been 44 cases reported in the literature[3]. The condition has been more frequently reported in males, the mean age being 42 years. The dorsal canal is most commonly affected, followed by the lumbosacral region. In our patient, the fat deposition was posterior to the dura as in most reported cases[2],[6],[7],[8]. Thirty- six of the reported patients were on therapeutic steroids for various conditions like immunocompromised states, Graves disease and dermatomyositis[9],[10]. The exact mode of abnormal growth response of normal extradural fat to exogenous steroids is not clear. There are six reports wherein the extradural lipomatosis was associated with obesity[2],[7]. One patient had hypothyroidism, where generalised fat deposition occurs due to suppressed lipolysis[7]. Our literature survey revealed only one earlier patient with 'idiopathic' spinal lipomatosis[3].

Patients usually present with localised, chronic back pain. Slowly progressive symptoms similar to those in spinal canal stenosis have been frequently seen[11]. Our patient was unique in that he had rapid progression of weakness in the legs and became paraplegic within a 40 day period. Acute symptomatology of this kind with rapid progression to paraplegia, in this relatively benign condition is very unusual. Such a clinical course and presentation has not been reported earlier. The differential diagnosis includes spinal tumours, abscess, haematoma and thoracic disc prolapse. As our patient had history of fever prior to onset of neurological symptoms, an extradural abscess was the first diagnosis. Magnetic resonance imaging is the investigation of choice as it may suggest the histological nature of the compressive lesion and provides a clear image of the extent of the pathology[3],[4]. Myelography could only reveal the level of the block and its extradural nature. When taken up for surgery, the diagnosis in order of priority were an extradural abscess, clot, extradural neoplasm and tuberculous granuloma. In these patients, plain X-rays are always normal. An alternative to MRI is a computerised tomographic (CT) myelography. Both MRI and CT were not available in- house, hence the need to do the old fashioned, butreliable myelography. There have been reports in the literature wherein there have been favourable responses to conservative treatment with weight reduction in obese patients[9], and to reduction of steroid dosage in cases secondary to corticosteroid administration[12]. Most patients, how ever, have undergone wide laminectomies with excision of the extradural fat. The results have been favourable. The patient being reported failed to show any improvement in response to this form of surgery, during his short post-operative stay. We have been unsuccessful in getting him back for a follow up evaluation.

An unusually rapid progressive paraplegia in a patient with thoracic spinal extradural lipomatosis is being reported. Absence of the known predisposing factor is an additional very unusual feature, having been reported only once before. This extradural lipomatosis will have to be added to the list of the differential diagnosis of extradural spinal cord compression, albeit low down.

 :: References Top

1. Butcher DI, Sahn SA. Epidural lipomatosis: a complication of corticosteroid therapy. Ann Intern Med 1979; 90:60.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Geugan Y, Farclou R, Launois B, Pecker J. Spinal cord compression by extradural fat after prolonged corticosteroid therapy. J Neurosurg 1982; 56:267-269.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Selmi F, Davies KG, Sharma RR, Redfern RM. Idiopathic spinal extradural lipomatosis in a non-obese otherwise healthy man. British Journal of Neurosurgery 1994; 8:355-358.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Quint DJ, Boulos RS, Sanders WP, Mehita BA, Patel SC, Tiel RL. Epidural lipomatosis. Radiology 1988; 169:485-490.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Lee M, Lekias J, Gubbay SS, Hurst PE. Spinal cord compression by extradural fat after renal transplantation. Med J Aust 1975; 1:201-203.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6.Soloniuk DS, Pecoraro SR, Munschauer FE. Myelopathy secondary to spinal epidural lipomatosis. Spine 1989; 14:119-122.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Toshniwal PK, Glick RP. Spinal epidural lipomatosis: report of a case secondary to hypothyroidism and review of literature. J Neurol 1987; 234:172-176.  Back to cited text no. 7    
8.Haid RW, Kaufman HH, Schochet SS, Marano GD. Epidural lipomatosis simulating an epidural abscess: case report and literature review. Neurosurgery 1987; 21:744-747.  Back to cited text no. 8    
9.Haddad SF, Hitchon PW, Godersky JC. Idiopathic and glucocorticoid induced spinal cord epidural lipomatosis. J Neurosurg 1991; 74:38-42.  Back to cited text no. 9    
10.Kaplan JG, Barasch E, Hirschfeld A, Ross L, Einberg K, Gordon M. Spinal epidural lipomatosis: a serious complication of iatrogenic Cushing's syndrome. Neurology 1989; 39:1031-1034.  Back to cited text no. 10    
11.Chapman PH, Martuza RL, Poletti CE, Karchmer AW. Symptomatic spinal epidural lipomatosis associated with Cushing's syndrome. Neurosurgery 1981; 8:724-727.  Back to cited text no. 11    
12.George WE, Wilmot M, Greenhouse A, Hammeke M. Medical Management of steroid induced epidural lipomatosis. N Engl J Med 1983; 308:316-319.   Back to cited text no. 12    

This article has been cited by
1 Acute spinal cord compression
Butteriss D, Jayakrishnan V
BRITISH JOURNAL OF RADIOLOGY. 2007; 80 (956): 686-689
2 Management of cervicothoracic spinal lipomatosis and rapidly progressive neurologic symptoms
Olsen LT, Tigyer LM, Antonacci MD
ORTHOPEDICS. 2006; 29 (8): 727-730
3 Idiopathic spinal epidural lipomatosis
Shah JA, Flynn P, Choudhari KA
4 Cauda equina compression after trauma - An unusual presentation of spinal epidural lipoma
Schizas C, Ballesteros C, Roy P
SPINE. 2003; 28 (8): E148-E151
5 Spinal epidural lipomatosis with thoracic osteoporotic compression fracture causing paraplegia
Chen CL, Lee CH, Lee TS, et al.


Print this article  Email this article
Previous article Next article
Online since 12th February '04
2004 - Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
Official Publication of the Staff Society of the Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow