This was a systematic review of the literature.
The aim was to examine the contemporary demographics, etiological factors, treatment options and outcomes of spinal epidural lipomatosis (SEL) in adults.
Summary of Background Data:
SEL is primarily seen in obese patients as well as those on steroid therapy. Much regarding the etiology and treatment outcomes of SEL is unknown.
We reviewed Ovid MEDLINE, PubMed, SCOPUS, and Google Scholars databases from 1990 through August 2020 to identify cases of SEL. Data collected included patient characteristics, disease associations, level of pathology, treatment, and clinical outcomes.
Ninety articles (145 individual cases) were included in the analysis. The median age was 54 years and 79% were males. Obesity-associated SEL constituted the largest proportion (52%) of our cohort. 22% of SEL cases were related to steroid use, while 26% cases were considered to be idiopathic. Lumbosacral SEL was the most frequently reported level of disease (68.9%), followed by the thoracic level (26.2%). The mean age of cases who underwent surgical intervention was 55 years, as compared with 48 years in those who received conservative management (P=0.03). 95% of patients reported some degree of symptomatic improvement regardless of the treatment modality. Logistic regression suggested a possible superior outcome associated with those undergoing surgical treatment.
In contrast to historical comparisons, contemporary articles support that obesity has become the major contributing factor for SEL. Logistic regression of the existing cases suggests that there may be a role for surgical intervention in select patients.