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Journal of Medical Case Reports

, 3:88

First Online: 30 October 2009Received: 24 June 2008Accepted: 30 October 2009DOI: 10.1186-1752-1947-3-88

Cite this article as: Yang, I., Paik, E., Huh, N.G. et al. J Med Case Reports 2009 3: 88. doi:10.1186-1752-1947-3-88


IntroductionGiant intradural extramedullary schwannomas of the thoracic spine are not common. Schwannomas, that is, tumors derived from neoplastic Schwann cells, and neurofibromas represent the most common intradural extramedullary spinal lesions. We report the case of a patient with a giant thoracic schwannoma presenting unusually with acute abdominal pain and with delayed neurological impairment.

Case presentationA 26-year-old Hispanic man with no previous medical problems presented with acute periumbilical pain. After extensive work-up including an exploratory laparotomy for appendectomy, magnetic resonance imaging scans of the lumbar and thoracic spine revealed a giant intradural extramedullary thoracic schwannoma within the spinal canal posterior to the T9, T10, and T11 vertebral bodies. Magnetic resonance imaging signal prolongation was noted in the spinal cord both rostral and caudal to the schwannoma. The patient underwent an urgent laminectomy from T8 to L1. After sacrificing the T10 root, the tumor was removed en bloc. Postoperatively, the patient improved significantly gaining antigravity strength in both lower extremities.

ConclusionThe T10 dermatome is represented by the umbilical region. This referred pain may represent a mechanism by which a giant thoracic schwannoma may present as acute abdominal pain. Acute, intense abdominal pain with delayed neurologic deficit is a rare presentation of a thoracic schwannoma but should be considered as a possible cause of abdominal pain presenting without clear etiology. Although these lesions may be delayed in their diagnosis, early diagnosis and treatment may lead to an improved clinical outcome.


MRImagnetic resonance imaging

CTcomputed tomography.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1752-1947-3-88 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Isaac Yang - Elena Paik - Nancy G Huh - Andrew T Parsa - Christopher P Ames


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