Hong Kong Med J 2010;16:287–91 | Number 4, August 2010
Surgical excision for challenging upper limb nerve sheath tumours: a single centre retrospective review of treatment results
YW Hung, WL Tse, HS Cheng, PC Ho
Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong
OBJECTIVE. To review the accuracy of different investigation modalities for upper limb nerve sheath tumours and the resulting surgical outcomes, and propose a standard algorithm to deal with such tumours to minimise complications.
DESIGN. Retrospective review.
SETTING. Regional hospital, Hong Kong.
PATIENTS. All patients with upper limb nerve sheath tumours being excised in our hospital from 1999 to 2008.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES. The accuracy rate of different investigations, as well as corresponding neurological deficits after excision and recurrence rates.
RESULTS. A total of 23 (10 male and 13 female) patients, aged between 28 and 72 (mean, 46) years, underwent excision of 25 lesions during the study period. The mean duration of symptom was 2.5 years and tumour size ranged from 1 to 10.5 cm (mean, 2.6 cm). A majority (80%) presented with a typical triad; only one had a true neurological deficit. Twenty-two ultrasonography and 20 magnetic resonance images were obtained, with a diagnostic accuracy of 77% and 100%, respectively. Eight fine-needle aspiration cytology examinations and two core biopsies were performed, which had respective accuracy rates of 13% and 100%. Fifteen patients experienced neurological deficits after the operation; three showed spontaneous recovery. Among 12 patients with long-term residual neurological sequelae, five had both motor and sensory deficits and four had moderate-to-severe disability. No recurrence was reported.
CONCLUSION. Nerve sheath tumours in the hand need to be managed with care. Among the different investigation modalities, magnetic resonance imaging was considered to be the gold standard. Yet ultrasonography is still the most easily accessible and least invasive investigation in public hospital setting. Complications are liable to ensue even if patients are managed by hand specialists. Thus, well-planned operations and detailed discussions with the patient are important prerequisites before operation.
Key words: Nerve sheath neoplasms; Neurilemmoma; Treatment outcome; Upper extremity
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