Schwannomas of the peripheral nerves are benign tumors that can very rarely undergo malignant transformation. These lesions are particularly challenging to diagnose via noninvasive techniques but can have significant implications for treatment.
This is a case of a 70-year-old female with a prior history of a right sciatic notch tumor that was diagnosed as a conventional schwannoma via histology from an initial biopsy and subsequent surgical debulking. Unfortunately, she experienced significant worsening of her motor deficit, whereby her postoperative foot weakness progressed to complete foot drop in less than 2 years. In addition, she demonstrated significant radiological progression, with more than 1 to 2 cm of growth in each dimension at her subsequent evaluation, along with intractable right leg pain. An additional operation was performed to completely remove the 7 × 8 cm tumor, and histology demonstrated angiosarcoma within a schwannoma. There was no evidence of recurrence at 15 months, and the patient had significant improvement in her pain.
Rapidly worsening function and radiological progression are not typically seen with conventional benign nerve sheath tumors and should prompt consideration of other lesions. Angiosarcoma within schwannoma is a rare pathology and optimal therapies for these tumors in terms of surgical timing and adjuvant therapy are still unknown.