Cauda equina syndrome (CES) is most caused by lumbar disc herniation, and the associated treatment involves prompt surgical decompression. Rarer causes of CES include perineural (Tarlov) cysts.
A 62-year-old female with history of rheumatoid arthritis, hip and knee replacements, and chronic low back pain presented with worsening back pain, left leg weakness and pain for 6 weeks, and bowel/bladder incontinence with diminished sensation in the perianal region for 24 h prior to presentation. MRI demonstrated severe spinal stenosis at L4-S1, central disc herniation at L5-S1, and compression of the cauda equina, consistent with CES. A lumbar decompression was performed. Patient did well at 2-week follow up, but presented 5 weeks post-discharge with increased left leg pain/weakness and genitalia anesthesia. Imaging was unremarkable. Two months later, the patient presented with diminished sensation in the buttocks and bilateral lower extremities and bowel/bladder incontinence. Imaging demonstrated a large cystic presacral mass with involvement of the left sciatic foramen and S3 neural foramen. A team of plastic, orthopedic, and neurological surgeons performed an S3 sacral laminectomy, foraminotomy, partial sacrectomy, and S3 rhizotomy, and excision of the large left hemorrhagic pudendal mass. Final pathology demonstrated a perineural cyst with organizing hemorrhage. On follow-up, the patient’s pain and weakness improved.
CES-like symptoms were initially attributed to a herniated disk. However, lumbar decompression did not resolve symptoms, prompting further radiographic evaluation at two separate presentations. This represents the first reported case of a pudendal tumor causing symptoms initially attributed to a herniated disc.
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Mahajan, U.V., Labak, K.B., Labak, C.M. et al. Pudendal tumor mimicking cauda equina syndrome and acute radiculopathy: case report. Spinal Cord Ser Cases 8, 71 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41394-022-00537-3