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Radiation-Induced Lumbosacral Plexopathy Treatment & Management

  • Author: Rajesh R Yadav, MD; Chief Editor: Robert H Meier, III, MD  more...
Updated: Aug 02, 2015

Rehabilitation Program

Physical Therapy

Strengthening of lower extremity muscles, use of assistive devices for ambulation (eg, cane, walker), and gait training should be prescribed for patients with weakness and proprioceptive feedback loss. Use of orthotics also may be beneficial in certain individuals with lumbosacral plexopathy.

Occupational Therapy

The patient's ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL) should be assessed, and appropriate assistive device(s) should be prescribed as needed. In particular, safety with standing transfers may be impaired with more distal involvement. With more proximal involvement, sit-to-stand transfers also may be affected. Strengthening exercises, along with sensory reeducation techniques, may be employed.


Medical Issues/Complications

Treatment of postradiation plexopathy is symptomatic. For issues of pain, consider the use of nonopiate pharmacologic medications, such as tricyclic antidepressants or antiepileptic agents (eg, gabapentin, carbamazepine). The use of steroids and opiates, including methadone, can also be considered.


Other Treatment

Nonpharmacologic measures, such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), may be used for pain.

While not studied in patients with radiation-induced lumbosacral plexopathy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has not led to the slowing or reversal of radiation-induced brachial plexopathy symptoms, although improvement was noted in warm sensory threshold.[16]

In a small population, partial recovery of motor function was noted in few patients treated with anticoagulant therapy for a period of 3-6 months.

A study by Tunio et al indicated that radiation-induced lumbosacral plexopathy can be reduced by delineating the lumbosacral plexus through imaging and administering intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) so that radiation dosages of 40, 50, 55, and 60 Gy are absorbed by less than 55%, 30%, 5%, and 0.5% of the lumbosacral plexus volume, respectively. The study involved 50 patients with cervical cancer who underwent IMRT and high-dose-rate brachytherapy. Four patients had developed grade 2/3 radiation-induced lumbosacral plexopathy by 60-month follow-up.[17]

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Rajesh R Yadav, MD Associate Professor, Section of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas Medical School at Houston

Rajesh R Yadav, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Michael T Andary, MD, MS Professor, Residency Program Director, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine

Michael T Andary, MD, MS is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine, American Medical Association, Association of Academic Physiatrists

Disclosure: Received honoraria from Allergan for speaking and teaching.

Chief Editor

Robert H Meier, III, MD Director, Amputee Services of America; Active Medical Staff, Presbyterian/St Luke’s Hospital, Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital, Select Specialty Hospital; Consulting Staff, Kindred Hospital

Robert H Meier, III, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Association of Academic Physiatrists

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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