Epidural angiolipomas are rare benign tumours composed of mature adipocytes and abnormal vessels.
Epidural angiolipomas are more frequently encountered in women, and typically in middle age (40-50 years of age) 1.
In keeping with the slow growth of these tumours, clinical presentation is usually gradual with symptoms often present over a number of months/years. Signs and symptoms include:
- back pain
- sensory changes (lower limbs)
- hyper-reflexia (lower limbs)
Angiolipomas can be divided into infiltrating and non-infiltrating varieties, and both as seen in the epidural space. Non-infiltrating angiolipomas are more common and are usually located in the dorsal epidural space, typically in the thoracic region 1. Infiltrating angiolipomas are more common in the anterior epidural space, and can infiltrate not only adjacent soft tissues, but also adjacent verterbrae 1.
CT demonstrates a mixture of soft tissue density and fatty components.
Signal characteristics are as expected from the composition of this tumour:
- high signal fatty component
- intermediate signal vascular component
- high signal
- flow voids are usually absent 1 but enlarged vessels in the region may be visible
T1 C+ (Gd)
- vivid enhancement of non-fatty components
Treatment and prognosis
Surgical resection is the treatment of choice, particularly for non-infiltrating tumours, in which case complete resection is possible and curative 1.
Malignant transformation has not been reported 1.
Differential diagnosis includes other epidural masses 1:
- 1. Leu NH, Chen CY, Shy CG et-al. MR imaging of an infiltrating spinal epidural angiolipoma. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2003;24 (5): 1008-11. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol (full text) - Pubmed citation
- 2. Fujiwara H, Kaito T, Takenaka S et-al. Thoracic spinal epidural angiolipoma: report of two cases and review of the literature. Turk Neurosurg. 2010;23 (2): 271-7. doi:10.5137/1019-5149.JTN.4860-11.0 - Pubmed citation
- 3. Hu S, Hu CH, Hu XY et-al. MRI features of spinal epidural angiolipomas. Korean J Radiol. 2013;14 (5): 810-7. doi:10.3348/kjr.2013.14.5.810 - Free text at pubmed - Pubmed citation