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Michael Safaee, Andrew T. Parsa, Nicholas M. Barbaro, Dean Chou, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Philip R. Weinstein, Tarik Tihan and Christopher P. Ames

OBJECT

Intradural extramedullary spine tumors represent two-thirds of all primary spine neoplasms. Approximately half of these are peripheral nerve sheath tumors, mainly neurofibromas and schwannomas. Given the rarity of this disease and, thus, the limited analyses of clinical outcomes, the authors examined the association of tumor location, extent of resection, and neurofibromatosis (NF) status with clinical outcomes.

METHODS

Patients were identified through a search of the University of California, San Francisco, neuropathology database and a separate review of current procedural terminology codes. Data recorded included patient age, patient sex, clinical presentation, presence of NF, tumor type, tumor location, extent of resection (gross-total resection [GTR] or subtotal resection [STR]), and clinical follow-up.

RESULTS

Of 221 tumors in 199 patients (mean age 45 years), 53 were neurofibromas, 163 were schwannomas, and 5 were malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors. The most common presenting symptom was spinal pain (76%), followed by weakness (36%) and sensory abnormalities (34%). Mean symptom duration was 16 months. In terms of spinal location, neurofibromas were more common in the cervical spine (74% vs 27%, p < 0.001), and schwannomas were more common in the thoracic and lumbosacral spine (73% vs 26%, p < 0.001). Rates of GTR were lower for neurofibromas than schwannomas (51% vs 83%, p < 0.001), regardless of location. Rates of GTR were lower for cervical (54%) than thoracic (90%) and lumbosacral (86%) lesions (p < 0.001). NF was associated with lower rates of GTR among all tumors (43% vs 86%, p < 0.001). The mean follow-up time was 32 months. Recurrence/progression was more common for neurofibromas than schwannomas (17% vs 7%, p = 0.03), although the mean time to recurrence/progression did not differ according to tumor type (45 vs 53 months, p = 0.63). As expected, GTR was associated with lower recurrence rates (4% vs 22%, p < 0.001). According to multivariate analysis, cervical location (OR 0.239, 95% CI 0.110–0.520) and presence of NF (OR 0.166, 95% CI 0.054–0.507) were associated with lower rates of GTR. In a separate model, only GTR (OR 0.141, 95% CI 0.046–0.429) was associated with tumor recurrence.

CONCLUSIONS

Resection is an effective treatment for spinal nerve sheath tumors. Neurofibromas were found more commonly in the cervical spine than in other regions of the spine and were associated with higher rates of recurrence and lower rates of GTR than other tumor types, particularly in patients with NF Types 1 or 2. According to multivariate analysis, both cervical location and presence of NF were associated with lower rates of GTR. According to a second multivariate model, the only variable associated with tumor recurrence was extent of resection. Maximal safe resection remains ideal for these lesions; however, patients with cervical tumors or NF should be counseled about their increased risk for recurrence.

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Michael M. Safaee, Russ Lyon, Nicholas M. Barbaro, Dean Chou, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Philip R. Weinstein, Cynthia T. Chin, Tarik Tihan and Christopher P. Ames

OBJECTIVE

Among all primary spinal neoplasms, approximately two-thirds are intradural extramedullary lesions; nerve sheath tumors, mainly neurofibromas and schwannomas, comprise approximately half of them. Given the rarity of these lesions, reports of surgical complications are limited. The aim of this study was to identify the rates of new or worsening neurological deficits and surgical complications associated with the resection of spinal nerve sheath tumors and the potential factors related to these outcomes.

METHODS

Patients were identified through a search of an institutional neuropathology database and a separate review of current procedural terminology (CPT) codes. Age, sex, clinical presentation, presence of neurofibromatosis (NF), tumor type, tumor location, extent of resection characterized as gross total or subtotal, use of intraoperative neuromonitoring, surgical complications, presence of neurological deficit, and clinical follow-up were recorded.

RESULTS

Two hundred twenty-one tumors in 199 patients with a mean age of 45 years were identified. Fifty-three tumors were neurofibromas; 163, schwannomas; and 5, malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs). There were 70 complications in 221 cases, a rate of 32%, which included 34 new or worsening sensory symptoms (15%), 12 new or worsening motor deficits (5%), 10 CSF leaks or pseudomeningoceles (4%), 11 wound infections (5%), 5 cases of spinal deformity (2%), and 6 others (2 spinal epidural hematomas, 1 nonoperative cranial subdural hematoma, 1 deep venous thrombosis, 1 case of urinary retention, and 1 recurrent laryngeal nerve injury). Complications were more common in cervical (36%) and lumbosacral (38%) tumors than in thoracic (18%) lesions (p = 0.021). Intradural and dumbbell lesions were associated with higher rates of CSF leakage, pseudomeningocele, and wound infection. Complications were present in 18 neurofibromas (34%), 50 schwannomas (31%), and 2 MPNSTs (40%); the differences in frequency were not significant (p = 0.834). Higher complication rates were observed in patients with NF than in patients without (38% vs 30%, p = 0.189), although rates were higher in NF Type 2 than in Type 1 (64% vs 31%). There was no difference in the use of intraoperative neuromonitoring when comparing cases with surgical complications and those without (67% vs 69%, p = 0.797). However, the use of neuromonitoring was associated with a significantly higher rate of gross-total resection (79% vs 66%, p = 0.022).

CONCLUSIONS

Resection is a safe and effective treatment for spinal nerve sheath tumors. Approximately 30% of patients developed a postoperative complication, most commonly new or worsening sensory deficits. This rate probably represents an inevitable complication of nerve sheath tumor surgery given the intimacy of these lesions with functional neural elements.