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Kristin Huntoon, Tianxia Wu, J. Bradley Elder, John A. Butman, Emily Y. Chew, W. Marston Linehan, Edward H. Oldfield, and Russell R. Lonser

OBJECT

Peritumoral cysts are frequently associated with CNS hemangioblastomas and often underlie neurological morbidity and mortality. To determine their natural history and clinical impact, the authors prospectively analyzed hemangioblastoma-associated peritumoral cysts in patients with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease.

METHODS

Patients with VHL disease who had 2 or more years of follow-up and who were enrolled in a prospective study at the National Institutes of Health were included. Serial prospectively acquired laboratory, genetic, imaging, and clinical data were analyzed.

RESULTS

One hundred thirty-two patients (of 225 in the VHL study with at least 2 years of follow-up) had peritumoral cysts that were followed for more than 2 years (total of 292 CNS peritumoral cysts). The mean age at study entrance was 37.4 ± 13.1 years ([mean ± SD], median 37.9, range 12.3–65.1 years). The mean follow-up was 7.0 ± 1.7 years (median 7.3, range 2.1–9.0 years). Over the study period, 121 of the 292 peritumoral cysts (41.4%) became symptomatic. Development of new cysts was associated with a larger number cysts at study enrollment (p = 0.002) and younger age (p < 0.0001). Cyst growth rate was associated with anatomical location (cerebellum cysts grew faster than spine and brainstem cysts; p = 0.0002 and p = 0.0008), younger age (< 35 years of age; p = 0.0006), and development of new neurological symptoms (p < 0.0001). Cyst size at symptom production depended on anatomical location (p < 0.0001; largest to smallest were found, successively, in the cerebellum, spinal cord, and brainstem). The most common location for peritumoral cysts was the cerebellum (184 cysts [63%]; p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

Peritumoral cysts frequently underlie symptom formation that requires surgical intervention in patients with VHL disease. Development of new cysts was associated with a larger number of cysts at study enrollment and younger age. Total peritumoral cyst burden was associated with germline partial deletion of the VHL gene.