Delayed presentation of metastatic melanoma of the cervical spine

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Department of Orthopedics and Physical Rehabilitation

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Cervical Vertebrae; Female; Humans; Melanoma; Middle Aged; Skin Neoplasms; Spinal Cord Compression; Spinal Neoplasms; Time Factors; Treatment Outcome


Orthopedics | Rehabilitation and Therapy


A 54-year-old woman presented with neck pain and bilateral shoulder pain. The pain was of varying intensity and was present with activity as well as at night and at rest. She had weakness of her triceps and finger intrinsic muscles. Her past medical history included stage IV melanoma for which she underwent an excision from the right flank area 25 years ago. She was cleared from any disease 5 years after the excision. Magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine revealed increased signal intensity in the C7 vertebral body with soft tissue extension into the epidural space. Two weeks after initial presentation the patient underwent a C7 corpectomy and fusion. The C7 vertebral body was grossly pathologic and tissue samples revealed metastatic malignant melanoma. During the 2 weeks following the fusion the patient developed increasing pain and generalized weakness. Repeat MRI of the cervical spine revealed a large soft tissue intensity extending in the spinal canal from C6 to T2. Several days later the patient developed an acute onset of lower extremity weakness as well as urinary incontinence. The patient opted to pursue hospice care, and she died 3 weeks later, 8 weeks after the initial presentation.


Orthopedics. 2008 Feb;31(2):167.

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