An extreme lateral lumbar disc herniation mimicking L4 schwannoma

B Bakar, M M Sumer, A Cila, I H Tekkok
Acta Neurologica Belgica 2009, 109 (2): 155-8

OBJECTIVE: We herein describe a case with an extraspinal mass distorting the right L4 dorsal root ganglion. Initially presumed to be a nerve root schwannoma, the lesion turned out to be a free disc fragment.

METHODS AND RESULTS: A 46-year-old woman presented with a history of mild low back and intense right leg pain. The leg pain was like electrical discharges. Right knee extension was weak together with hyperalgesia and loss of heat sensation in the right LA dermatome. The right patellar reflex was absent. Electromyography showed acute and chronic denervation of muscles innervated by the right L4 nerve root. MR scan showed a right L4-5 extraforaminal mass distorting the L4 dorsal root ganglion. The mass enhanced homogeneously after gadolinium injection and was thought to be a tumor. It was surgically removed using a midline incision and intraspinal, followed by extraspinal dissection. Under the operating microscope, the mass extended between an intact lateral longitudinal ligament and a swollen dorsal root ganglion. Histopathologic examination ruled out a tumor and showed that the mass consisted of degenerated disc material surrounded by a large peripheral zone of neovascularization.

CONCLUSION: Extraforaminal periganglionic free, encapsulated disc fragments may mimic tumoral masses, from which they may not be distinguished on MRI.

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