Spinal chondroma of the lumbar tract: Case report

Paolo Gaetani, Flavio Tancioni, Paola Merlo, Laura Villani, Giovanni Spanu, Riccardo Rodriguez y Baena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Cartilage-forming tumors are benign cartilaginous tumors that rarely affect the spinal canal: they account for 2% of all spinal tumors and 2.6% of all benign bone tumors. Pathologically, they may be classified as chondromas, osteochondromas, chondroblastomas, and chondromyxoid fibromas. This oncotype may remain asymptomatic (it is confined within the vertebral structure) or may present as a hard paravertebral swelling (it invades the paravertebral structures) or more rarely, with a slowly-developing neurologic syndrome (it extends into the vertebral canal). METHODS: Thirty-one cases have been reported (including our case) of benign cartilage-forming tumors localized in the lumbar column. Only three cases of chondroma of the lumbar spine presented with lumbar radicular pain. We report a fourth case and review clinical and radiologic characteristics of these lesions. RESULTS: Eleven out of the 31 cases were diagnosed as chondromas, 17 as osteochondromas, while in three cases the histopathologic diagnosis was not reported. Seventeen cases originated from the neural arch, seven from the vertebral body, two from the spinous process, and in five cases the exact localization was not reported. This tumor is more frequent in males (21 cases out of 31), than in females (five cases); in five cases the sex was not reported. Mean duration of symptoms was 23 ± 5.1 months (range: 1-96); chondromas have a short clinical history before diagnosis (13.8 ± 3.4 months) compared to osteochondromas (28.6 ± 7.6). Clinical presentation with local swelling is reported in 10 cases, in 10 cases local pain without radicular irradiation, in six cases lumbar pain with sciatica, in two cases signs and symptoms of cord compression, one case of cauda syndrome, while in four cases no clinical details are reported. Among the six cases presenting with sciatica, four were chondromas (in all cases the L4 level was involved), and one osteochondroma, while in one case the histopathologic diagnosis was not reported. CONCLUSION: Computed tomography is important and indispensable for preoperative diagnosis, giving a precise indication of tumor extent and location and its relationship to the adjacent structures; while MRI is helpful in detecting patterns related to histologic malignancy. It is important to examine the whole tumor histologically because it is known that there may be small areas that show signs of malignancy; thus is more likely in chondromas than osteochondromas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-539
Number of pages6
JournalSurgical Neurology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1996


  • Cartilage tumor
  • chondroma
  • lumbar tumor
  • spinal tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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