Intramedullary spinal cord metastasis as initial presentation of systemic cancer--report of a rare case.Zentralbl Neurochir. 2007 Nov; 68(4):214-6.ZN
We report the rare case of a 74-year-old man who was admitted to our hospital with rapid progression of tetraparesis, which was most apparent in the lower right limb, sensory disturbances from C3 to S1 on the left side and recent onset of constipation and urinary retention. There was no known history of cancer. As MRI of the neck disclosed a cervical intramedullary mass lesion at C 4/5 level suspicious for a primary glial tumour, the patient underwent surgery. After microsurgical excision the histological analysis of the lesion unexpectedly revealed an intramedullary spinal cord metastasis (ISCM) of a poorly differentiated carcinoma, immunohistochemically consistent with a bronchial carcinoma. As intramedullary spinal cord metastases are generally associated with poor survival, a palliative irradiation of the levels C1-6 was additionally performed. Unfortunately tetraparesis and numbness remained. The very rare occurrence of intramedullary spinal cord metastasis and the absence of pathognomonic symptoms often lead to a delay until an underlying malignancy is discovered. Although rare, intramedullary spinal cord metastasis should be considered as a differential diagnosis of a spinal intramedullary lesion. Surgery and radiation are both options in the controversially discussed treatment of ISCM.