Surgical management of complex spinal cord lipomas: how, why, and when to operate. A review.J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2019 05 01; 23(5):537-556.JN
This review summarizes the classification, anatomy, and embryogenesis of complex spinal cord lipomas, and it describes in some detail the new technique of total lipoma resection and radical reconstruction of the affected neural placode. Its specific mission is to tackle two main issues surrounding the management of complex dysraphic lipomas: whether total resection confers better long-term benefits than partial resection and whether total resection fares better than conservative treatment-i.e., no surgery-for asymptomatic lipomas. Accordingly, the 24-year progression-free survival data of the author and colleagues' series of over 300 cases of total resection are compared with historical data from multiple series (including the author and colleagues' own) of partial resection, and total resection data specifically for asymptomatic lesions are compared with the two known series of nonsurgical treatment of equivalent numbers of patients. These comparisons amply support the author's recommendation of total resection for most complex lipomas, with or without symptoms. The notable exception is the asymptomatic chaotic lipoma, whose peculiar anatomical relationship with the neural tissue defies even this aggressive surgical approach and consequently projects worse results (admittedly of a small number of cases) than for the other two lipoma subtypes of dorsal and transitional lesions. Prophylactic resection of asymptomatic chaotic lipomas is therefore not currently endorsed.