July 17, 2014
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Neural stem cell therapy linked to development of spinal cord mass

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Eight years after undergoing implantation of olfactory mucosal cells to repair a complete spinal cord injury, a patient was found to have developed an intramedullary spinal cord mass at the site of cell implantation — the first case of its kind, researchers reported.

An 18-year-old patient sustained a T10–11 fracture dislocation and American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale Grade A spinal cord injury with sensory level at T-11 and no lower-extremity motor strength after being involved in a motor vehicle accident. After reduction, realignment and internal instrumentation of the spinal fracture were unsuccessful in restoring sensation or motor strength, the patient elected to undergo experimental stem cell treatment.

The patient developed progressively worsening mid- to lower-back pain that continued for 1 year before she returned for evaluation 8 years after the initial implantation. Through MRI, the patient’s physicians discovered a 3.9 cm × 1.2 cm expansile cystic and heterogeneously enhancing intramedullary mass at the level of the spinal cord injury, which required resection. Postoperatively, the patient’s back pain was resolved, according to the researchers.

“Given the prolonged time to presentation, safety monitoring of all patients treated with cell transplantation and neural stem cell implantation should be maintained for many years,” the researchers wrote.

Disclosure: The authors have no relevant financial disclosures.

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