Spine J 2010 Jun;10(6):e1-5
Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Lois Pope Life Center, Miami, FL 33136, USA.
Background Context: Large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma of the lung is an aggressive tumor with unique histopathological features. It is not known to metastasize to the spine.
Purpose: To report a metastatic case of this rare tumor to the cauda equina.
Study Design: Case report.
Methods: Retrospective case review and review of the literature.
Results: The authors report a rare case of a large cell neuroendocrine lung metastasis to the lumbar spine, causing right foot drop. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a heterogeneously enhancing intradural extramedullary mass at L2/L3 level compressing the surrounding nerve roots. During surgery, the identified nerve roots were encased by the tumor, and the dissection was tedious. Postoperatively, the patient reported significantly improved back pain and he had severe foot weakness. The functional outcome was poor because the patient lost entirely his foot function; however, his back pain improved significantly after surgery.
Conclusions: This is the first published study in which the authors described a metastasis of a rather uncommon lung cancer to the cauda equina. When a lesion of the cauda equina presents with a rapid progressive neurological deficit, leptomeningeal metastasis should be in the differential diagnosis.