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World J Surg Oncol. 2006 Jun 21;4:33.

The tip of the iceberg: a giant pelvic atypical lipoma presenting as a sciatic hernia.

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  • 1Department of General Surgery, St, John's Hospital at Howden, Livingston, NHS Lothian-University Hospitals Division, UK.



This case report highlights two unusual surgical phenomena: lipoma-like well-differentiated liposarcomas and sciatic hernias. It illustrates the need to be aware that hernias may not always simply contain intra-abdominal viscera.


A 36 year old woman presented with an expanding, yet reducible, right gluteal mass, indicative of a sciatic hernia. However, magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated a large intra- and extra-pelvic fatty mass traversing the greater sciatic foramen. The tumour was surgically removed through an abdomino-perineal approach. Subsequent pathological examination revealed an atypical lipomatous tumour (synonym: lipoma-like well-differentiated liposarcoma). The patient remains free from recurrence two years following her surgery.


The presence of a gluteal mass should always suggest the possibility of a sciatic hernia. However, in this case, the hernia consisted of an atypical lipoma spanning the greater sciatic foramen. Although lipoma-like well-differentiated liposarcomas have only a low potential for recurrence, the variable nature of fatty tumours demands that patients require regular clinical and radiological review.

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