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MRI Features and Clinical Significance of Spinal Epidural Lipomatosis: All You Should Know

Author(s):

Paolo Spinnato*, Massimo Barakat, Ludovica Lotrecchiano, Davide Giusti, Giacomo Filonzi, Daniele Spinelli, Valerio Pipola, Antonio Moio, Cecilia Tetta and Federico Ponti  

Abstract:


Spinal epidural lipomatosis (SEL) is defined as the abnormal accumulation of unencapsulated adipose tissue in the spinal epidural space. SEL can be asymptomatic or can cause a wide range of symptoms, the most common of which is neurogenic claudication. Several other neurological manifestations may also occur, above all myelopathy and radicular symptoms. The spinal level most frequently involved in patients with SEL is the lumbar one, followed by the thoracic one. Imaging plays a key role in disease assessment. MRI is considered the most effective and sensitive modality for diagnosing and staging SEL. Anyway, also CT scan can diagnose SEL. The diagnosis may be incidental (in mild-moderate disease) or may be taken into account in cases with neurological symptoms (in moderate-severe disease). There are some recognized risk factors for SEL, the most common of which are exogenous steroid use and obesity. Recent studies have found an association between SEL and obesity, hyperlipidemia and liver fat deposition. As a matter of fact, SEL can be considered the spinal hallmark of metabolic syndrome. Risk factors control represents the initial treatment strategy in patients with SEL (e.g. weight loss, steroid therapy suspension). Surgical decompression may be required when conservative treatment fails or when the patient develops acute/severe neurological symptoms.

Keywords:

Lipomatosis; Spinal Stenosis; Metabolic Syndrome; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Obesity; Steroids; Intermittent Claudication

Affiliation:

Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Bologna, Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Bologna, Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Bologna, Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Bologna, Department of Radiology, Ospedale Maggiore, Bologna, Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Bologna, Department of Oncologic and Degenerative Spine Surgery, IRCCS, Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Bologna, Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Bologna, Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Bologna, Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Bologna



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