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Lumbosacral plexopathy caused by the perineural spread of pelvic malignancies: clinical aspects and imaging patterns.

BACKGROUND: Perineural spread (PNS) of tumors from pelvic malignancies is a rare phenomenon but constitutes an important differential diagnosis of lumbosacral plexopathy (LSP). Herein, we describe the clinical and imaging features of patients with LSP due to PNS of pelvic malignancies along with a literature review.

METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed 9 cases of LSP caused by PNS of pelvic malignancy between January 2006 and August 2021, and all clinical and imaging parameters were recorded in detail. Clinical symptoms and signs of patients were described and listed in the order in which they occurred. The results of imaging test were analyzed to describe specific findings in LSP caused by PNS.

RESULTS: This study enrolled nine adult patients (mean age, 50.1 years). Two cases initially presented as LSP and were later diagnosed with pelvic malignancy. Pain in the perianal or inguinal area preceded pain at the extremities in six patients. Neurogenic bladder or bowel symptoms developed in five patients. On the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the S1-S2 spinal nerve was most commonly involved, and S1 myotome weakness was more prominent in six patients than the other myotomes. One patient had an intradural extension. 18 F-Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) showed abnormal signal intensity in six patients. No abnormality in 18 F-FDG PET/CT was detected in the nervous structures in one patient. Only four patients survived until the last follow-up visit.

CONCLUSIONS: Though rare, physicians should always keep in mind the possibility of LSP due to the PNS in patients with pelvic malignancy. Thorough physical examination and history taking could provide clues for diagnosis. Pelvic MRI and 18 F-FDG-PET/CT should be considered for patients with LSP to rule out neoplastic LSP.

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