Only a few published studies of the surgical treatment of benign peripheral nerve sheath tumors (BPNSTs), malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs), and peripheral non–neural sheath tumors (PNNSTs) have analyzed the results and possible prognostic factors using multivariate analysis. The authors report on their surgical series of cases of BPNSTs, MPNSTs, and PNNSTs with long-term follow-up and analyze the role of selected factors with respect to the prognosis and risk of recurrence of these tumors using multivariate analysis. They also review the pertinent literature and discuss their results in its context.
The authors retrospectively reviewed data from cases involving patients who underwent resection of a peripheral nerve tumor between January 1983 and December 2013 at their institution. Of a total of 200 patients, 150 patients (with 173 surgically treated tumors) had adequate follow-up data available for analysis. Pain was assessed using a visual analog scale (VAS), and motor and sensory function were assessed by means of the Louisiana State University grading system. They also analyzed the relationship between tumor recurrence and patient sex, patient age, diagnosis of neurofibromatosis (NF), tumor histopathology, tumor size, tumor location, and extent of resection (subtotal vs gross-total resection), using univariate and multivariate analyses.
There was a statistically significant improvement in the mean VAS pain score (preoperative 3.96 ± 2.41 vs postoperative 0.95 ± 1.6, p = 0.0001). Motor strength and sensory function were significantly improved after resection of tumors involving the brachial plexus (p = 0.0457 and p = 0.0043, respectively), tumors involving the upper limb (p = 0.0016 and p = 0.0016, respectively), BPNSTs (p = 0.0011 and p < 0.0001, respectively), and tumors with dimensions less than 5 cm (motor strength: p = 0.0187 and p = 0.0021 for ≤ 3 cm and 3–5 cm tumors, respectively; sensory function: p = 0.0003 and p = 0.0001 for ≤ 3 cm and 3–5 cm tumors, respectively). Sensory function showed a statistically significant improvement also in patients who had undergone resection of tumors involving the lower limb (p = 0.0118). Total resection was associated with statistically significant improvement of motor strength (p = 0.0251) and sensory function (p < 0.0001). In univariate analysis, a history of NF (p = 0.0034), a diagnosis of MPNST or PNNST (p < 0.0001), and subtotal resection (p = 0.0042) were associated with higher risk of tumor recurrence. In multivariate analysis (logistic regression analysis), a history of NF (OR 9.28%, 95% CI 1.62–52.94, p = 0.0121) and a diagnosis of MPNST (OR 0.03%, 95% CI 0.002–0.429, p = 0.0098) or PNNST (OR 0.081%, 95% CI 0.013–0.509, p = 0.0077) emerged as independent prognostic factors for tumor recurrence.
A total resection should be attempted in all cases of peripheral nervous system tumors (irrespective of the supposed diagnosis and tumor dimensions) because it is associated with better prognosis in term of functional outcome and overall survival. Moreover, a total resection predicts a lower risk of tumor recurrence. Patients with a history of NF and tumors with malignant histology remain a challenge both for neurosurgeons and oncologists due to higher recurrence rates and the lack of standardized adjuvant therapies.