Benign peripheral nerve lesions of lipomatous, vascular, and chondromatous origin are very rare. Only one previous case of brachial plexus involvement by such a tumor has been reported. The authors report on their experience with peripheral nerve tumors in three patients and review the available literature on these topics. The three cases discussed include a 44-year-old woman with an intraneural lipoma of the right middle trunk, a 40-year-old woman with an intraneural hemangioma infiltrating the right posterior cord, and a newborn male with a predominantly cartilaginous hamartoma originating from the right C-5 nerve root.
The literature review yielded six previous cases of intraneural lipoma, approximately 50 cases of lipofibromatous hamartoma, 13 cases of intraneural hemangioma, and no previous case of cartilaginous hamartoma originating from a nerve. Intraneural lipomas are well encapsulated, and gross-total resection can be achieved. Lipofibromatous hamartomas are diffusely infiltrative; decompressive debulking and neurolysis is often the most appropriate initial approach for patients with symptomatic lesions. Resection of intraneural hemangiomas can be achieved but may require nerve resection and repair in some cases. Debulking has been reported to provide prolonged symptomatic relief in these lesions, and preoperative embolization and postoperative radiotherapy were beneficial in the case presented here. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first reported case of a cartilaginous hamartoma infiltrating a peripheral nerve. Gross-total resection of symptomatic intraneural lipomas is feasible and apparently curative. The optimal treatment for lipofibromatous hamartomas and vascular and chondromatous lesions of the peripheral nerves is uncertain and should be guided by the severity of symptoms.