Primary spinal epidural non-hodgkin’s lymphoma: Report of eight patients and review of the literature

Mark K. Lyons, Brian P. O’Neill, W. Richard Marsh, Paul J. Kurtin

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62 Scopus citations


Eight patients treated for histologically confirmed primary spinal epidural non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosed between January 1979 and August 1989 (6.6% of all cases of intraspinal lymphoma) were studied. There were six men and two women. The median age was 70 years (range, 43–80 yr). Patients sought treatment for a prodrome of back pain (median duration, 3 mo) followed by an acute neurological deterioration (median duration, 6 d). The most common findings were a discrete sensory level in 5 patients, hyperreflexia in 5 patients, and paraparesis or paraplegia in 5 patients. Radiographically, there was an absence of bony destruction by these tumors. All patients underwent a decompressive laminectomy, subtotal tumor resection, and spinal irradiation (median dose, 3800 cGy). Two patients had low-grade lymphomas (one B cell and one T cell), and 6 patients had intermediate-grade lesions (six B cell). Two patients with B-cell lymphomas (one low-grade and one intermediate-grade) developed metastatic disease 15 and 17 months after the initial diagnosis; no evidence of lymphoma developed in the other 6 patients. The median survival was 22 months (range, 2–71 mo). Lymphoma was the cause of death in only 1 of the 4 patients who died, and the 4 younger patients are alive and well. Primary spinal epidural non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma should be a diagnostic consideration in the older patient who seeks treatment for spinal cord compression manifested by a prodrome of back pain, followed by a rapid neurological deterioration, normal plain spine radiographs, and neuroimaging consistent with an extradural compressive lesion. Surgery for this diagnosis followed by spinal irradiation should result in significant neurological improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-680
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1992


  • Non-hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Spine tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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