Sacral and presacral tumors: problems in diagnosis and management

Neurosurgery. 1989 Dec;25(6):884-91.


We reviewed 9 cases of sacral tumors with presacral extension. These included 2 chordomas, 1 metastatic renal cell carcinoma, 2 schwannomas (1 malignant, 1 benign), 1 neurofibroma, 1 neurofibrosarcoma, 1 aneurysmal bone cyst, and an exceedingly rare meningioma. The sex of the patients was not significant. The age of the patients at diagnosis ranged from 13 to 68 years (mean, 47 years). Initial symptoms of low back and radiating leg pain were present in all but 1 patient. The duration of symptoms prior to diagnosis ranged from 1 month to 9 years (mean, 2.6 years). A delay in diagnosis of 2 years or more occurred in 6 of the 9 patients. Progressive perineal numbness and/or sphincter dysfunction were seen in 6 patients, and a palpable rectal mass was noted in 6 of 9 patients. The efficacy of various diagnostic tests is presented, as are the surgical options--needle biopsy and anterior and posterior approaches. Despite improved radiographic imaging techniques, these unusual tumors are often diagnosed at an advanced stage, and may masquerade as discogenic radiculopathy. Late diagnosis contributes to the difficulty of surgical extirpation. Anterior and posterior surgical approaches involving general, orthopedic, and urological surgeons may be required.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chordoma / diagnosis*
  • Chordoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Chordoma / surgery
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Sacrum
  • Spinal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Spinal Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Neoplasms / surgery