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October 2021

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1997 Feb; 20(2): 124-9.

Schwannoma of the cauda equina.

Caputo LA, Cusimano MD.

Department of Graduate Studies and Research, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

OBJECTIVE: To review the features of spinal schwannoma in a case that mimicked a lumbar disc herniation. CLINICAL FEATURES: A 37-yr-old woman suffered from a 4-yr history of progressive low back and leg pain, with progressive neurological involvement of several nerve roots. Noteworthy symptomatology included increased pain when lying recumbent and urinary and fecal incontinence. Several health care practitioners diagnosed her with a lumbar disc herniation. Investigations with myelography, computed tomography (CT) with myelographic contrast and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed the presence of an intradural tumor at the T12-L2 region. INTERVENTION AND OUTCOME: The tumor was surgically resected via laminectomies at T12-L2. The patient experienced a decrease of pain intensity but continued to complain about the low back and posterior thigh pain and has been unable to return to work. She continues to suffer from urinary incontinence, which is controlled by medication. There has been no recurrence of the tumor. CONCLUSION: Spinal pathology such as schwannoma of the cauda equina can mimic common complaints of low back pain seen in clinical practice. Differentiating features of cauda equina tumors from lumbar disc prolapse include: pain on lying recumbent, progressive nature of the pain and neurological deficit, involvement of several nerve root levels and intractability of the condition to conservative therapy. The most appropriate methods for imaging these tumors are CT with myelography or MRI. Patient prognosis is improved with early detection and removal. Chiropractors can play a pivotal role in the care of these patients by being suspicious of patients who do not respond as expected to a course of manipulative therapy, by investigating or referring appropriately and by aiding in active rehabilitation postoperatively.


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