Solid variant of aneurysmal bone cyst of the thoracic spine: a case report

J Med Case Rep. 2011 Jun 30;5:261. doi: 10.1186/1752-1947-5-261.


Introduction: The solid variant of aneurysmal bone cyst is rare, and only 13 cases involving the spine have been reported to date, including seven in the thoracic vertebrae. The diagnosis is difficult to secure radiographically before biopsy or surgery.

Case report: An 18-year-old Hispanic man presented to our facility with a one-year history of left chest pain without any significant neurological deficits. An MRI scan demonstrated a 6 cm diameter enhancing multi-cystic mass centered at the T6 vertebral body with involvement of the left proximal sixth rib and extension into the pleural cavity; the spinal cord was severely compressed with evidence of abnormal T2 signal changes. Our patient was taken to the operating room for a total spondylectomy of T6 with resection of the left sixth rib from a single-stage posterior-only approach. The vertebral column was reconstructed in a 360° manner with an expandable titanium cage and pedicle screw fixation. Histologically, the resected specimen showed predominant solid fibroblastic proliferation, with minor foci of reactive osteoid formation, an area of osteoclastic-like giant cells, and cyst-like areas filled with erythrocytes and focal hemorrhage, consistent with a predominantly solid variant of aneurysmal bone cyst. At 16 months after surgery, our patient remains neurologically intact with resolution of his chest and back pain.

Conclusions: Because of its rarity, location, and radical treatment approach, we considered this case worthy of reporting. The solid variant of aneurysmal bone cyst is difficult to diagnose radiologically before biopsy or surgery, and we hope to remind other physicians that it should be included in the differential diagnosis of any lytic expansile destructive lesion of the spine.