Intracranial melanotic schwannomas: a rare variant with unusual adherent features

D. Mahato, T. Vivas-Buitrago, K. Gassie, M. Jentoft, D. Tavanaiepour, A. Quiñones-Hinojosa

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4 Scopus citations


Abstract: Intracranial melanotic schwannomas (IMSch) are extremely rare nerve sheath tumors with features of Schwann cells that produce melanin. After a thorough review of the available literature since 1967, we report not only the 20th case of IMSch but a comprehensive modern-era analysis of radiographic and histological key-points to be considered when diagnosing and treating patients with this rare known entity. This is the case of a 43 years-old woman who presented with severe headaches 9 years ago (2008). At that time, MRI of the brain showed a 1.5 × 1.4 cm lesion at the level of the left cerebellar peduncle without any evidence of edema, mass effect or hydrocephalus. Given that the patient was neurologically intact, a conservative management with serial MRIs was recommended. Patient stopped following up due to the absence of symptoms. Over the course of the past year, patient noted mild left sided hearing loss and facial weakness, as well as some balance instability that progressed over the last 3 months. Given the presentation and progression of these signs and symptoms, a new MRI was performed in which considerable growth of the lesion was identified, measuring 2.5 × 2.8 × 2.6 cm with mass effect on the pons and the inferior fourth ventricle. She underwent a far lateral approach without a C1 hemilaminectomy for the resection of this lesion. Final pathology was consistent with a non-psammomatous melanotic schwannoma (NPMS) with areas of necrosis. Besides this case, only two other cases of IMSch with findings of necrosis have been reported in the literature, all of them reporting a subtotal resection. Evaluation of all previously reported cases of IMSch shows a male prevalence with a 1.6:1 male to female ratio. IMSch is radiographically T2 hypointense and can be differentiated from Schwannomas that are classically T2 hyperintense. In this case, only a subtotal resection was feasible due to the tumor’s overwhelming inherent attachment to vital structures such as cranial nerves (CN), brainstem, and vasculature. While MSch is considered histologically benign, several factors including localization, surrounding structures, the rate of growth, tumor volume resection and histological necrosis should be considered in determining prognosis and further adjuvant treatment planning. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-306
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neuro-oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Carney complex
  • Intracranial
  • Melanoma
  • Melanotic schwannoma
  • Necrosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cancer Research


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