Object. The authors endeavor to define the clinical and surgery-related profile of spinal nerve sheath tumors located in the extradural space outside both the dural sac and, apparently, the nerve roots' sleeve.
Methods. A series of 24 extradural schwannomas was retrospectively selected after reviewing the notes of spinal nerve sheath tumors surgically treated at La Sapienza University of Rome. Clinical data, tumor-related characteristics, and outcome were analyzed.
Women predominantly harbored these tumors. On admission sensory nerve root dysfunction was infrequently reported, whereas pyramidal tract deficits were often present. The tumor, generally large, was most frequently located in the intermediate thoracic segments and high cervical region; only one was reported in the lumbosacral region. Considerable erosion of vertebral bodies was reported in almost one third of the cases. In four patients eloquent nerve roots, that of C-5 in three and that of S-1 in one, were involved with the tumor. Radical tumor resection, with preservation of the nerve roots, was possible in several cases, whereas in two patients manipulation and resection of the C-5 root produced transient and permanent, respectively, root palsy. At follow-up examination patients for whom walking was impossible before surgery were now able to walk.
Conclusions. Extradural schwannomas can be distinguished from other nerve sheath tumors growing inside the spinal canal by their clinicoradiological features and unlikely nerve root origin. After surgery, recovery from pyramidal tract deficits, even severe, is noteworthy; in the authors' experience, however, resection of an involved appendicular root is more likely to result in a permanent and significant radicular deficit.
Address reprint requests to: Paolo Celli, M.D., Divisione di Neurochirurgia, II° Facolta' di Medicina e Chirurgia, Ospedale S. Andrea, Via di Grottarossa 1035, 00189 Roma, Italy. email: Paolo.Celli@uniroma1.it.
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