Objectives/Hypothesis: To analyze clinical and epidemiological features of neck nerve schwannomas, with emphasis on the neurologic outcome after surgical excision sparing as much of nerve fibers as possible with enucleation technique.
Study Design: Retrospective study.
Methods: Review of medical records from 1987 to 2006 of patients with neck nerve schwannomas, treated in a single institution.
Results: Twenty-two patients were identified. Gender distribution was equal and age ranged from 15 to 61 years (mean: 38.6 years). Seven vagal, four brachial plexus, four sympathetic trunk, three cervical plexus, and two lesions on other sites could be identified. Most common symptom was neck mass. Local or irradiated pain also occurred in five cases. Median growing rate of tumors was 3 mm per year. Nerve paralysis was noted twice (a vagal schwannoma and a hypoglossal paralysis compressed by a vagal schwannoma). Different techniques were employed, and seven out of nine patients kept their nerve function (78%) after enucleation. No recurrence was observed in follow-up.
Conclusions: Schwannomas should be treated surgically because of its growing potential, leading to local and neural compression symptoms. When possible, enucleation, which was employed in 10 patients of this series, is the recommended surgical option, allowing neural function preservation or restoration in most instances. This is especially important in the head and neck, where denervation may have a significant impact on the quality of life.