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Occult radiological effects of lipomatosis of the lumbosacral plexus

Mark A Mahan, B Matthew Howe, Kimberly K Amrami, Robert J Spinner
Skeletal Radiology 2014, 43 (7): 963-8
24728786

OBJECTIVE: Lipomatosis of nerve (LN) is a condition of massive peripheral nerve enlargement frequently associated with hypertrophy within the distribution of the nerve, and most commonly affecting the distal limbs. We sought to understand if LN of the lumbosacral plexus would be associated with the trophic effects of LN on surrounding tissue within the pelvis, which may be clinically occult, but present on MRI.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Fifty-one cases of LN, confirmed by pathology or pathognomonic appearance on MRI, were reviewed. Patients with LN of the sciatic nerve were investigated for radiological signs suggestive of overgrowth.

RESULTS: Five patients had involvement of the sciatic nerve, 4 of whom had MR imaging of the pelvis. Three patients had LN involving the lumbosacral plexus, and one patient had isolated involvement of the sciatic nerve. All patients with involvement of the lumbosacral plexus demonstrated previously unrecognized evidence of nerve territory overgrowth in the pelvis, including: LN, profound adipose proliferation, muscle atrophy and fatty infiltration, and bone hypertrophy and ankylosis. The patient with LN involving the intrapelvic sciatic nerve, but not the lumbosacral plexus did not demonstrate any radiological evidence of pelvic overgrowth.

CONCLUSION: LN is broader in anatomical reach than previously understood. Proximal plexal innervation may be involved, with a consequent effect on axial skeleton and intrapelvic structures.

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