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Eur Spine J. Jun 2003; 12(3): 328–331.
Published online Nov 19, 2002. doi:  10.1007/s00586-002-0484-9
PMCID: PMC3615487

Schwann cell invasion of the conus medullaris: case report


As Schwann cells possess regenerative capabilities there is intense interest concerning their role in central nervous system (CNS) regeneration. We report on a case of an intramedullary schwannoma involving the conus medullaris and spinal cord above it. We discuss the possible origin of these cells and the mechanisms by which these cells may invade the CNS. We offer imaging and discuss experimental studies to support our hypothesis. This case concerns a 48-year-old man, who presented with a 6-month history of bilateral lower extremity weakness. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed an intramedullary tumour extending from the conus to T11. At operation, following laminectomy and durotomy, a schwannoma was dissected free from the conus. Total gross resection of tumour was achieved. The patient made an uneventful and full recovery. This case shows that Schwann cells can invade the CNS. Manipulation of the transitional zone astrocytic barrier may offer a potential avenue for Schwann cells to enter the CNS in pathological states.

Keywords: CNS regeneration Intramedullary schwannoma Transitional zone

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