Objective: To define associated clinical conditions, pathology, natural history, and treatment outcome of nonhepatosplenic extramedullary hematopoiesis (NHS-EMH).
Patients and methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical charts of all patients identified as having NHS-EMH from 1975 to 2002. Diagnosis was made by tissue biopsy, fine-needle aspiration biopsy, or radionuclide bone marrow scanning.
Results: We identified 27 patients with antemortem diagnosis of NHS-EMH. The most common associated condition and disease site were myelofibrosis with myeloid metaplasia (MMM) (in 18 patients [67%]) and the vertebral column (in 7 patients [26%]; all involving the thoracic region), respectively. At the time of diagnosis of NHS-EMH, concurrent splenic EMH (in 22 patients [82%]; 15 [56%] had undergone splenectomy) and red blood cell transfusion dependency (in 12 patients [44%]) were prevalent. Of the 27 patients, 9 (33%) required no specific therapy. Specific therapy was radiation (in 7 patients with a 71% response rate) and surgical excision (in 6 patients with a 67% response). Treatment-associated complications were limited to surgery. Radiation therapy was not used in the non-MMM group, but low-dose radiation therapy was used in the MMM group for paraspinal or intraspinal EMH (median dose, 1 Gy; range, 1-10 Gy), pleural or pulmonary disease (median dose, 1.25 Gy; range, 1.00-1.50 Gy), and abdominal or pelvic disease (median dose, 2.02 Gy; range, 150-4.50 Gy). Median survival after the diagnosis of NHS-EMH was 13 months in the MMM group and 21 months in the non-MMM group.
Conclusions: This retrospective study suggests that NHS-EMH is rare, is often associated with MMM, and preferentially affects the thoracic spinal region. Asymptomatic disease may require no specific treatment, whereas symptomatic disease is best managed with low-dose radiation therapy.