Recurrent chordoma of the L2 vertebra : A case report

Published online: Jun 27 2010

Steven Heylen, Jozef Michielsen, Geert Mahieu, Johan Somville

From the University Hospital Antwerp, Belgium


Chordoma is a rare slow-growing, locally invasive primary malignant bone tumour arising from notochord remnants. It is characterised by a high local recurrence rate. Most chordomas (60%) are found in the sacrococcygeal region : only 15% originate in the mobile spine. CT-scan and MRI can help evaluate the tumour extension. En bloc resection of the tumour mass is the standard treatment. The main prognostic factor is tumour-negative surgical margins. Due to the location of spinal chordomas, adjacent to vital neural and vascular structures, this can be difficult to achieve. Therefore radiotherapy has been used when adequate excision is not possible and in case of local recurrence. We report the case of a 72-year-old female with a recurrent chordoma of the L2 vertebra, previously treated with resection and radiotherapy. The recurrent chordoma was resected using a right-sided thoraco-phreno-laparotomy as the tumour could not be resected using the left anterior approach or posterior approach due to extensive fibrosis following surgery and radiotherapy.