Object. The operative management of combined intrapelvic and extrapelvic sciatic notch dumbbell-shaped tumors is challenging. The relatively rare occurrence of these tumors and the varied extent of disease have made it difficult for surgeons to establish definitive surgical indications or predict favorable neurological outcomes based on preoperative imaging data. Methods. In the past 3 years, the authors treated five patients presenting with radiating leg pain as a result of benign sciatic notch dumbbell-shaped tumors. These tumors in three patients with unilateral leg symptoms were considered unresectable by other neurosurgeons because of presumed direct intrinsic neural involvement. After high-resolution magnetic resonance (MR) imaging demonstrated that the extensive tumors were separate from the sciatic nerve and the lumbosacral plexus, however, these patients underwent a combined one-stage transabdominal and posterior transgluteal complete resection. Normal neurological status was maintained postoperatively in these three patients, and after more than 1 year of postoperative follow up, there were no tumor recurrences. In two patients with bilateral symptoms and extensive tumor burden, serial MR images showed that innumerable tumors directly involved the entire cross-sectional area of the sciatic nerves and extended longitudinally to the lumbosacral plexuses. Tumor debulking or resection in these patients would have resulted in neurological deficits and would not have addressed their neuropathic pain, and therefore no surgery was performed. These two patients were treated pharmacologically and advised to monitor their tumor status over the course of their lifetimes in case of malignant transformation of the tumor. Conclusions. A combined one-stage transabdominal and transgluteal approach allows safe resection of selected benign but extensive sciatic notch tumors. High-resolution MR imaging is a useful tool in the management of these tumors because it allows the surgeon to visualize the anatomical relationships of the tumor to the sciatic nerve. The authors believe that as this imaging technology advances, it will provide surgeons with a method to predict definitively which sciatic notch tumors displace rather than directly involve the sciatic nerve, and therefore indicate which tumors can be resected safely and completely.
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