Total Myelography in the Evaluation of Lumbar Discs: With the Presentation of Three Cases of Thoracic Neoplasms Simulating Nerve Root Lesions

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It has been our practice to perform total myelography in all cases of lumbar disc disease including the various syndromes of spinal stenosis, because experience has indicated that myelographic abnormalities in the cervical and thoracic areas could have clinical importance despite the presence of gross changes in the lumbar region. Failure to establish a definite diagnosis by restricted lumbar myelography makes it mandatory to evaluate all levels of the spinal axis. Recently, 3 patients with thoracic spinal cord tumors presented with primary signs and symptoms of lumbar spine disorders. Evidence of spinal cord disease was minimal and could be readily overlooked. Total myelography disclosed varying degrees of lumbar spinal pathology, but also showed evidence of lesions in the thoracic region. One proved to be an intramedullary astrocytoma of the spinal cord, and two were schwannomas. The symptoms of low-back pain and lumbar radiculopathy improved after excision of the schwannomas and following x-ray therapy and chemotherapy in the patient with the intramedullary neoplasm.

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