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01.12.2011 | Case report | Ausgabe 1/2011 Open Access

Journal of Medical Case Reports 1/2011

Epidural varicosis as a possible cause of radicular pain: a case report

Journal of Medical Case Reports > Ausgabe 1/2011
Stefan Endres
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1752-1947-5-537) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The author declares that they have no competing interests.



The incidence rate of epidural varicosis has declined by 0.07% to 1.2% since the introduction of computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. Despite the use of these modern imaging methods it can still be difficult to distinguish the diagnosis of epidural varicosis from other causes, such as nucleus pulposus prolapse.

Case presentation

We present the case of a 48-year-old Caucasian woman who had been experiencing sciatic pain for seven years. A physical examination showed nerve root pain at L5 on the right side, with positive signs of neurotension. During an elective hysterectomy due to endometriosis, unusually pronounced varicosis in her lesser pelvis was seen that had not previously been detected. Postoperatively, our patient developed a symptomatic pulmonary embolism. Findings from magnetic resonance tomography of her lumbar spine, in conjunction with our patient's history, were considered by the radiologist to be indicative of epidural varicosis. No further pathological abnormalities that could have been the cause of the nerve root pain were found.


In cases of epidural varicosis with irritation of neural structures as a result of inferior vena cava hypoplasia, surgical treatment leads to unsatisfactory results. Significantly better results can be achieved by resolving the cause of the vena cava pathology. In cases of hypoplasia or aplasia of the inferior vena cava this is not always possible; consequently, as in the case of our patient, only a symptomatic therapy in combination with an anticoagulant and compression therapy can be performed.

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