Vagal Nerve Schwannoma

Vagal Nerve Schwannoma

Epidemiology

Schwannoma arising from the vagus nerve is an uncommon (2–5%) benign nerve tumour.

Vagal Nerve Schwannomas are usually confined to the retrostyloid parapharyngeal space, although patients with schwannomas that extend into the posterior cranial fossa through the jugular foramen have been reported


Schwannomas arising from the vagus nerve are extremely rare in children, with only 16 cases reported in the world literature 1).

Clinical features

They usually presents as an asymptomatic slow growing mass 2).

Most cases of schwannomas manifest between the third and sixth decades of the patient’s life as a slow growing firm, painless mass in the lateral neck. Hoarseness, pain, or cough may be the presenting complaints. They displace the carotid arteries anteriorly and medially, jugular vein laterally and posteriorly. These swellings are mobile transversely but not vertically 3).

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is based on clinical suspicion and confirmation obtained by means of surgical pathology.

Differential diagnosis

Schwannomas of the vagus nerve must be differentiated from the carotid body and glomus vagale tumors because the distinction may influence treatment planning.

Treatment

Surgical excision is the treatment of choice for vagal schwannoma, with recurrence being rare.


Intermittent intraoperative neuromonitoring via selective stimulation of splayed motor fibers running on the schwannoma surface to elicit a compound muscle action potential has been previously reported as a method of preserving vagal motor fibers.

In a case report, vagal sensory fibers were mapped and continuously monitored intraoperatively during high vagus schwannoma resection using the laryngeal adductor reflex (LAR). Mapping of nerve fibers on the schwannoma surface enabled identification of sensory fibers. Continuous LAR monitoring during schwannoma subcapsular microsurgical dissection enabled sensory (and motor) vagal fibers to be monitored in real time with excellent postoperative functional outcomes 4).

Outcome

Nerve damage during surgical resection is associated with significant morbidity 5).

This tumour most often presents as a slow growing asymptomatic solitary neck mass, which rarely undergoes malignant transformation.

Literature review

In a comprehensive literature review on 197 articles reporting 235 cases of cervical vagal schwannomas. Presenting symptoms, treatment approach, and postoperative outcomes were recorded and analyzed.

Vagal schwannomas commonly present as asymptomatic neck masses. When they become symptomatic, surgical resection is the standard of care. Gross total resection is associated with higher postoperative morbidity compared to subtotal resection. Initial reports using intraoperative nerve monitoring have shown improved nerve preservation. Recurrence rates are low.

The combination of intermittent nerve mapping with novel continuous vagal nerve monitoring techniques may reduce postoperative morbidity and could represent the future standard of care for vagal schwannoma treatment 6).

Case series

Case series of three patients who underwent vagal schwannoma excision utilizing a IONM technique. The recurrent laryngeal and vagus nerves were monitored via the laryngeal adductor reflex (LAR) using an electromyographic endotracheal tube.

Three patients with suspected vagal schwannomas were treated surgically using the intracapsular enucleation approach with a combination of intermittent IONM and continuous IONM of the LAR.

This combination of continuous and intermittent IONM can be used to preserve vagal laryngeal innervation and function and may represent the future standard of care for vagal schwannoma excision 7).


Green et al. reported 36 of these rare neoplasms in 35 patients. The majority of the tumors presented as a mass in the upper cervical or parapharyngeal region. Usually the mass was asymptomatic. The following types and frequencies of neoplasms of the vagus nerve were noted: paragangliomas, 50%; neurilemmomas, 31%; neurofibromas, 14%; and neurofibrosarcomas, 6%. Surgical resection, with preservation of the vagus nerve when possible, is the treatment of choice. The clinical features, diagnosis, management, and prognosis of the tumors are presented. Special problems that occur with vagal neoplasms include postoperative dysfunction, catecholamine secretion, and intracranial or skull-base extension 8).

Case reports

In a case report, vagal sensory fibers were mapped and continuously monitored intraoperatively during high vagus schwannoma resection using the laryngeal adductor reflex (LAR). Mapping of nerve fibers on the schwannoma surface enabled identification of sensory fibers. Continuous LAR monitoring during schwannoma subcapsular microsurgical dissection enabled sensory (and motor) vagal fibers to be monitored in real time with excellent postoperative functional outcomes 9).


Keshelava et al. operated one patient for cervical schwannoma causing internal carotid artery (ICA) compression.

The patient underwent en bloc excision via transcervical approach under general anesthesia. Pathological examination demonstrated the diagnosis of schwannoma.

This case shows that VNS can cause ICA compression and therefore brain ischemia 10).


Schwam et al. reported a purely intracranial vagal schwannoma 11).

2018

A 60-year-old female patient was seen at our service for a slow-growing, 9 × 6 cm left-sided cystic neck mass. Preoperative clinical and computed tomography evaluation suggested a diagnosis of a lateral neck cyst. The surgical exploration through the lateral cervicotomy revealed a large cystic mass and clearly identified that the tumor was originating from the left vagal nerve. The histopathologic analysis confirmed the diagnosis of schwannoma. Although uncommon, vagal schwannoma with pronounced cystic component should be included in the differential diagnosis of the cystic neck swellings 12).


A 55-year-old woman who presented to the clinic complaining of throat irritation and feeling of something stuck in her throat for the past three months. On examination, a bulging left parapharyngeal mass was noted, displacing the left tonsil and uvula medially. A contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) scan of the neck showed a large, hypervascular soft tissue mass with splaying of the left internal carotid artery. Intraoperatively, the tumor was found to be arising from the vagus nerve. Macroscopic surgical pathology examination showed a tan-red, ovoid, and firm mass. Histopathology showed a benign spindle cell tumor with Antoni A areas with palisading cell nuclei and some degenerative change, confirming the diagnosis of vagus nerve schwannoma. CONCLUSIONS Vagus nerve schwannomas should be distinguished from other tumors that arise in the neck before planning surgery, to minimize the risk of nerve injury. Physicians need to be aware of the differential diagnosis of a neck mass, investigations required, the surgical treatment and the potential postoperative complications 13).


Sreevatsa et al. described three cases of schwannoma involving the vagus who presented differently to our unit during past 5 years 14).


A large vagal neurilemmoma in a 33-year-old man is reported. He complained of slowly progressive palsy of the tongue on the left side. Weakness of soft palate movement was also noted. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed a tumour in the left parapharyngeal space with partial extension to the posterior cranial fossa through the jugular foramen. Carotid angiography revealed avascularity of the tumour and anterior shift of the left internal carotid artery. The venous phase showed no blood flow in the internal jugular vein. The tumour was successfully extirpated via a transmandibular transpterygoid approach. Although vagus nerve dysfunction was not observed pre-operatively, the tumour was identified as a neurilemmoma arising from the vagus nerve. The surgical approach should be selected according to the lesion in individual patients. Since neurilemmoma is benign in nature, minimal post-operative sequelae should be expected 15).

References

1)

Mierzwiński J, Wrukowska I, Tyra J, Paczkowski D, Szcześniak T, Haber K. Diagnosis and management of pediatric cervical vagal schwannoma. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2018 Nov;114:9-14. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2018.08.021. Epub 2018 Aug 23. PubMed PMID: 30262374.
2) , 13)

Ramdass AA, Yao M, Natarajan S, Bakshi PK. A Rare Case of Vagus Nerve Schwannoma Presenting as a Neck Mass. Am J Case Rep. 2017 Aug 21;18:908-911. PubMed PMID: 28824161; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5574523.
4) , 9)

Sinclair CF, Téllez MJ, Sánchez Roldán MA, Urken M, Ulkatan S. Intraoperative mapping and monitoring of sensory vagal fibers during vagal schwannoma resection. Laryngoscope. 2019 Dec;129(12):E434-E436. doi: 10.1002/lary.28147. Epub 2019 Jun 18. PubMed PMID: 31211430.
5) , 7)

Sandler ML, Sims JR, Sinclair C, Ho R, Yue LE, Téllez MJ, Ulkatan S, Khorsandi AS, Brandwein-Weber M, Urken ML. A novel approach to neurologic function sparing surgical management of vagal schwannomas: Continuous intraoperative nerve monitoring of the laryngeal adductor reflex. Head Neck. 2019 Sep;41(9):E146-E152. doi: 10.1002/hed.25793. Epub 2019 May 6. PubMed PMID: 31058386.
6)

Sandler ML, Sims JR, Sinclair C, Sharif KF, Ho R, Yue LE, Téllez MJ, Ulkatan S, Khorsandi AS, Brandwein-Weber M, Urken ML. Vagal schwannomas of the head and neck: A comprehensive review and a novel approach to preserving vocal cord innervation and function. Head Neck. 2019 Jul;41(7):2450-2466. doi: 10.1002/hed.25758. Epub 2019 Apr 7. Review. PubMed PMID: 30957342.
8)

Green JD Jr, Olsen KD, DeSanto LW, Scheithauer BW. Neoplasms of the vagus nerve. Laryngoscope. 1988 Jun;98(6 Pt 1):648-54. PubMed PMID: 2836676.
10)

Keshelava G, Robakidze Z. Cervical Vagal Schwannoma Causing Asymptomatic Internal Carotid Artery Compression. Ann Vasc Surg. 2019 Oct 17. pii: S0890-5096(19)30859-3. doi: 10.1016/j.avsg.2019.09.021. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 31629844.
11)

Schwam ZG, Kaul VZ, Shrivastava R, Wanna GB. Purely intracranial vagal schwannoma: A case report of a rare lesion. Am J Otolaryngol. 2019 May – Jun;40(3):443-444. doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2019.02.011. Epub 2019 Feb 18. PubMed PMID: 30799212.
12)

Cukic O, Jovanovic MB. Vagus Nerve Schwannoma Mimicking a Lateral Neck Cyst. J Craniofac Surg. 2018 Nov;29(8):e827-e828. doi: 10.1097/SCS.0000000000005006. PubMed PMID: 30320693.
14)

Sreevatsa MR, Srinivasarao RV. Three cases of vagal nerve schwannoma and review of literature. Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011 Oct;63(4):310-2. Epub 2011 Apr 8. PubMed PMID: 23024932; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3227827.
15)

Yumoto E, Nakamura K, Mori T, Yanagihara N. Parapharyngeal vagal neurilemmoma extending to the jugular foramen. J Laryngol Otol. 1996 May;110(5):485-9. PubMed PMID: 8762326.

Plexiform neurofibroma treatment

Plexiform neurofibroma treatment

Since plexiform neurofibromas are a major cause of the burden of disease and may also progress to malignancy, many efforts have been undertaken to find a cure for these tumors. However, neither surgery nor medication has so far produced a breakthrough therapeutic success.

Plexiform neurofibromas with sizable intraspinal extensions and resultant spinal cord compromise pose challenging management problems, because these lesions may involve multiple nerves and engulf adjacent vascular and visceral structures 1).

Decisions about surgical treatment and frequency of follow-up must be made judiciously and individualized for each patient 2).

Plexiform neurofibromas arising in the orbito-temporal area pose a greater challenge due to its critical function and cosmetic importance of the face. Such plexiform neurofibromas, separately designated as orbito-temporal plexiform neurofibromas, show complex symptoms such as severe ptosis, ectropion, lacrimal gland dysfunction, and even vision loss 3).


A clinical phase I study reported significant shrinkage of plexiform neurofibromas following treatment with the MEK inhibitor selumetinib.

Vaassen et al., reported an 11-year-old NF1 patient with a large plexiform neurofibroma of the neck that had led to a sharp-angled kinking of the cervical spine and subsequent myelopathy. Although surgical stabilization of the cervical vertebral column was urgently recommended, the vertebral column was inaccessible due to extensive tumor growth. In this situation, treatment with the MEK inhibitor trametinib was initiated which resulted in a 22% reduction in tumor volume after 6 months of therapy and finally enabled surgery. These data show that MEK inhibitors may not lead to complete disappearance of NF1-associated plexiform neurofibromas but can be an essential step in a multimodal therapeutic approach for these tumors. The course of our patient suggests that MEK inhibitors are likely to play a significant role in providing a cure for one of the most devastating manifestations of NF1 4).

References

1)

Pollack IF, Colak A, Fitz C, Wiener E, Moreland M, Mulvihill JJ. Surgical management of spinal cord compression from plexiform neurofibromas in patients with neurofibromatosis 1. Neurosurgery. 1998 Aug;43(2):248-55; discussion 255-6. PubMed PMID: 9696077.
2)

Gutmann DH, Aylsworth A, Carey JC, Korf B, Marks J, Pyeritz RE, Rubenstein A, Viskochil D. The diagnostic evaluation and multidisciplinary management of neurofibromatosis 1 and neurofibromatosis 2. JAMA. 1997 Jul 2;278(1):51-7. Review. PubMed PMID: 9207339.
3)

Choi J, Choi HJ, Kang KJ, Kwon H, Shin J. Simultaneous Forehead Lift and Blepharoplasty Techniques in Management of Orbito-Temporal Plexiform Neurofibroma. J Craniofac Surg. 2019 Mar 14. doi: 10.1097/SCS.0000000000005448. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 30889063.
4)

Vaassen P, Dürr N, Röhrig A, Willing R, Rosenbaum T. Trametinib Induces Neurofibroma Shrinkage and Enables Surgery. Neuropediatrics. 2019 May 29. doi: 10.1055/s-0039-1691830. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 31141829.

Motocross accident

Motocross accident

Motocross is a form of off-road motorcycle racing held on enclosed off-road circuits. The sportevolved from motorcycle trials competitions held in the United Kingdom.

Motocross is a physically demanding sport held in all-weather conditions.

They have been gaining popularity among children and adolescents, raising concerns for increased risk of concussions in participating youth.


A 25-year-old man sustained a right-sided brachial plexus injury from a high-velocity motocross accident. Physical examination and electromyography were consistent with a pan-brachial plexopathy with no evidence of axonal continuity. The patient underwent a spinal accessory nerve to suprascapular nerve transfer and an intercostal nerve to musculocutaneous nerve transfer with interpositional sural nerve grafts. He recovered MRC 4/5 elbow flexion and MRC 2/5 shoulder abduction and external rotation. Twenty-two months post-injury the patient displayed a flicker of flexion of his flexor pollicis longus and flexor digitorum profundus to his index finger – he went on to recover a functional pinch. Thirty-six months post-injury the patient displayed a flicker of contraction in brachioradialis with motor unit potentials on electromyography. This case demonstrates that some patients may have capacity for functional recovery after prolonged denervation and highlights the potential impact of anatomical anomalies in the assessment and treatment of peripheral nerve injuries 1).


A 25-year-old man had a T11T12 fracture dislocation sustained in a motocross accident that resulted in a T11 American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (ASIA) grade A traumatic spinal cord injury. He was treated with acute surgical decompression and spinal fixation with fusion, and enrolled in the spinal scaffold study. A 2 × 10 mm bioresorbable scaffold was placed in the spinal cord parenchyma at T12. The scaffold was implanted directly into the traumatic cavity within the spinal cord through a dorsal root entry zone myelotomy at the caudal extent of the contused area. By 3 months, his neurological examination improved to an L1 AIS grade C incomplete injury. At 6-month postoperative follow-up, there were no procedural complications or apparent safety issues related to the scaffold implantation.

Although longer-term follow-up and investigation are required, this case demonstrates that a polymer scaffold can be safely implanted into an acutely contused spinal cord. This is the first human surgical implantation, and future outcomes of other patients in this clinical trial will better elucidate the safety and possible efficacy profile of the scaffold 2).


Nearly half of all motocross competitors under the age of 18 reported concussion symptoms. Preventive measures are necessary to limit the negative impact from concussions. The risk of concussive injury can be decreased for pediatric motocross riders if they receive professional help with proper helmet fitting and through implementation of stricter guidelines regarding sponsorship 3).

Daniels et al. found a high occurrence of head injuries following pediatric off-road motorcycle riding or motocross accidents despite the use of helmets. Additionally, this study severely underestimates the rate of mild TBIs in this patient population. Our data indicate that motocross is a high-risk sport despite the use of protective gear. Riders and parents should be counseled accordingly about the risks prior to participation 4).

Increased degenerative changes in the cervical and thoracic spine were identified in adolescent motocross racers compared with age-matched controls. The long-term consequences of these changes are unknown; however, athletes and parents should be counseled accordingly about participation in motocross activities 5).

References

1)

Head LK, Wolff G, Boyd KU. Reinnervation of Extrinsic Finger Flexors and Brachioradialis 22 and 36 Months Following Traumatic Pan-Brachial Plexopathy: A Case Report. J Hand Surg Asian Pac Vol. 2019 Mar;24(1):118-122. doi: 10.1142/S2424835519720081. PubMed PMID: 30760136.
2)

Theodore N, Hlubek R, Danielson J, Neff K, Vaickus L, Ulich TR, Ropper AE. First Human Implantation of a Bioresorbable Polymer Scaffold for Acute Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury: A Clinical Pilot Study for Safety and Feasibility. Neurosurgery. 2016 Aug;79(2):E305-12. doi: 10.1227/NEU.0000000000001283. PubMed PMID: 27309344.
3)

Luo TD, Clarke MJ, Zimmerman AK, Quinn M, Daniels DJ, McIntosh AL. Concussion symptoms in youth motocross riders: a prospective, observational study. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2015 Mar;15(3):255-60. doi: 10.3171/2014.11.PEDS14127. Epub 2015 Jan 2. PubMed PMID: 25555121.
4)

Daniels DJ, Clarke MJ, Puffer R, Luo TD, McIntosh AL, Wetjen NM. High occurrence of head and spine injuries in the pediatric population following motocross accidents. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2015 Mar;15(3):261-5. doi: 10.3171/2014.9.PEDS14149. Epub 2015 Jan 2. PubMed PMID: 25555116.
5)

Daniels DJ, Luo TD, Puffer R, McIntosh AL, Larson AN, Wetjen NM, Clarke MJ. Degenerative changes in adolescent spines: a comparison of motocross racers and age-matched controls. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2015 Mar;15(3):266-71. doi: 10.3171/2014.9.PEDS14153. Epub 2015 Jan 2. PubMed PMID: 25555120.
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