A significant association between C5 nerve sheath tumors and new postoperative weakness

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  • 1 Department of Neurological Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota; and
  • | 2 Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, Phoenix, Arizona
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OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to determine if patients with nerve sheath tumors affecting the C5 spinal nerve are at greater risk for postoperative weakness than those with similar tumors affecting other spinal nerves contributing to the brachial plexus.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review (1998–2020)identified patients with pathologically confirmed schwannomas or neurofibromas from the C5 to T1 nerves. Patients with plexiform nerve sheath tumors, tumors involving more than 1 nerve, and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors were excluded. Collected variables included basic demographics, tumor dimensions, its location relative to the dura, involved nerve level, surgical approach, extent of resection, presenting symptoms, postoperative neurological deficits, and recurrence rate.

RESULTS

Forty-six patients (23 men, 23 women) were identified for inclusion in the study with an average age of 47 ± 17 years, BMI of 28 ± 5 kg/m, and follow-up of 32 ± 45 months. Thirty-nine patients (85%) had schwannomas and 7 (15%) had neurofibromas. Tumors involved the C5 (n = 12), C6 (n = 11), C7 (n = 14), C8 (n = 6), and T1 (n = 3) nerves. Multivariable logistic regression analysis with an area under the curve of 0.85 demonstrated C5 tumor level as an independent predictor of new postoperative weakness (odds ratio 7.4, p = 0.028). Of those patients with new postoperative weakness, 75% improved and 50% experienced complete resolution of their motor deficits.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with C5 nerve sheath tumor resections are at higher odds of new postoperative weakness. This may be due to the predominant single innervation of shoulder muscle targets in contrast to other upper extremity muscles that receive input from 2 or more spinal nerves. These findings are important for clinical decision-making and preoperative patient counseling.

ABBREVIATIONS

AUC = area under the curve.

Images from Shimizu et al. (pp 616–623).

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