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Mohammad Alfawareh, Tariq Alotaibi, Abdallah Labeeb, Ziad Audat
(Department of Orthopedic, Ibn Alhythem Hospital, Amman, Jordan)
Am J Case Rep 2016; 17:805-809
Despite being the most common tumor of the spine, vertebral hemangioma is rarely symptomatic in adults. In fact, only 0.9–1.2% of all vertebral hemangiomas may be symptomatic. When hemangiomas occur in the thoracic vertebrae, they are more likely to be symptomatic due to the narrow vertebral canal dimensions that mandate more aggressive management prior to the onset of severe neurological sequelae.
CASE REPORT: An 18-year-old male presented to the emergency room with a one-month history of mild to moderate mid-thoracic back pain, radiating to both lower limbs. It was associated with both lower limb weakness and decreased sensation. There was no history of bowel or bladder incontinence. Neurological examination revealed lower limb weakness with power 3/5, exaggerated deep tendon reflexes, bilateral sustained clonus, impaired sensation below the umbilicus, spasticity, and a positive Babinski sign. A CT scan showed a diffuse body lesion at the 8th thoracic vertebra with coarse trabeculations, corduroy appearance, or jail-bar sign. The patient underwent decompression and fixation. Biopsy of permanent samples showed proliferation of blood vessels with dilated spaces and no malignant cells, consistent with hemangioma. Postoperatively, spasticity improved, and the patient regained normal power.
CONCLUSIONS: Symptomatic vertebral hemangiomas are rare but should be considered as a differential diagnosis. They can present with severe neurological symptoms. When managed appropriately, patients regain full motor and sensory function. Decompression resulted in quick relief of symptoms, which was followed by an extensive rehabilitation program.