BACKGROUND: To identify clinical features, radiological findings and surgical outcomes of primary cauda equina tumours.
METHODS: A consecutive series of 64 operations in 60 patients with primary cauda equina tumours from April 1999 to May 2009 at one institution comprised the study. The cases were divided into tumours of neural sheath origin (TNS, n = 48) and tumours of non-neural sheath origin (TNNS, n = 22). We analysed pain intensity, neurological abnormalities, MRI findings, surgical extent and functional outcome.
RESULTS: The TNS group showed more leg pain (76 % vs. 44 %, p = 0.019) with higher intensity (6.1 ± 1.5 vs. 4.6 ± 1.9, p = 0.04). Motor weakness and bladder dysfunction were more common in the TNNS group (p = 0.028 and p = 0.00 in each). Flow voids of MRI were more frequently observed in TNNS (50 % vs. 4 %, p = 0.01). The TNS group achieved total removal in all operations compared with total removal in 77 % in the TNNS group (p = 0.001). The TNNS group showed higher recurrence rates (18 % vs. 0 %, p = 0.009). The TNS group showed higher improvement of JOA scores postoperatively (p = 0.049). Surgical complications were observed less frequently in the TNS group (19 % vs. 78 %, p = 0.000).
CONCLUSIONS: TNS differs from TNNS by causing more frequent leg pain, higher pain intensity and more frequent flow voids. TNS has better surgical outcomes than TNNS in terms of higher rates of total removal, fewer surgical complications, better functional outcomes and less recurrence.