An intramuscular lipoma is a benign tumor made of fatty tissue that develops within muscle tissue. These tumors can be found in the torso, head, neck and legs of middle-aged adults. Diagnosis involves an examination by a physician and x-rays. As these tumors are not life-threatening, surgical removal is not necessary unless the tumor causes discomfort by pressing against a nerve. Surgery is somewhat more complex than removing other lipomas, and the lipoma may regrow if it is not completely removed.
Though the cause of lipomas is not fully understood, the common consensus in the medical community is that hereditary factors are involved. One percent of all individuals develop a lipoma in middle age. An intramuscular lipoma consists of a fatty tumor developing within the muscle fibers. To compare, an intermuscular lipoma develops between muscle groups. The type of tumor is identical in both cases.
The tumor presents as a bump, sometimes causing the skin to protrude. Most tumors associated with this type of lipoma are very small, no bigger than 1 to 2 centimeters in diameter. Due to the location of an intramuscular lipoma, discomfort is more likely than with other types of lipoma. Seeing one's physician is advised especially if one notices the lipoma is growing; the lipoma could be pressing against a nerve.
Diagnosing an intramuscular lipoma involves both a physical exam and x-rays. The fatty tissue is easily visible on the latter. Blood work and other tests can rule out the presence of malignant cancer. If a patient experiences no pain or discomfort, surgery is not necessary, though future visits to the physician may include more x-rays to ensure the tumor is no longer growing. Yet if the lipoma causes pain, surgery is the only option.
Unlike intermuscular limpomas, which can easily be removed through surgery, surgical removal of an intramuscular lipoma is more complicated. This is because the lipoma is within a muscle group and the cutting of muscle is required. The location of the lipoma may make it impossible for the surgeon to remove all the tumor as to not cause permanent muscle damage. If some of the lipoma remains, it may grow back to its original size.
If a patient undergoes a successful surgery, recovery time is only one or two days. The tumor should not grow back. For patients whose surgeons were unable to remove the whole tumor, they will need to have periodic x-rays to measure future tumor growth if it should occur. A second surgery may be necessary if the tumor reaches its previous size.