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.
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.
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).
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.