A surgical series of 201 benign and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (PNSTs) was assessed to characterize the anatomical and clinical presentation of tumors and identify predictors of neurological outcome, recurrence, and extent of resection.
All surgically treated PNSTs from the Division of Neurosurgery at Toronto Western Hospital from 1993 to 2010 were reviewed retrospectively. Data were collected on patient demographics, clinical presentation, surgical technique, extent of resection, postoperative neurological outcomes, and recurrence.
One hundred seventy-five patients with 201 tumors had adequate follow-up for analysis. There were 182 benign and 19 malignant PNSTs. Of the benign lesions, 133 were schwannomas, 21 of which were associated with a diagnosis of schwannomatosis. There were 49 neurofibromas, and 26 were associated with neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1). Patients presenting with schwannomas were significantly older than those with neurofibromas. Schwannomas were more readily resected than neurofibromas, with the extent of resection of the former influenced by tumor location. Patients with benign PNSTs typically presented with a painful mass and less frequently with motor deficits. The likelihood of worsened postoperative motor function was decreased in patients with fully resected tumors or preoperative deficits. Recurrence of schwannomas and neurofibromas were seen more frequently in patients diagnosed with NF3 and NF1, respectively. Subtotal resection was associated with the increased recurrence of all benign lesions.
Outcomes following resection of benign PNSTs depend on tumor histopathology, tumor location, and genetic predisposition syndrome. Gross-total resection should be attempted for benign lesions where possible. The management of malignant PNSTs remains challenging, requiring a multimodal approach.