Brachial plexus tumors in a tertiary referral center: A case series and literature review

G. Millan, Diogo Casal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Brachial plexus (BP) tumors are very rare tumors, with less than 800 cases been described in the literature worldwide since 1970. These tumors often present as local or radicular pain, with scant or no neurological deficits. These symptoms are shared by many other more common rheumatologic diseases, thus making their diagnosis difficult in most cases. Additionally, these tumors often present as lumps and are therefore biopsied, which carries a significant risk of iatrogenic nerve injury. Material and Methods: In this paper the authors describe their experience in the management of 5 patients with BP tumors, followed-up for at least 2 years. There were 4 males and 1 female. The median follow-up time was 41 ± 21 months. The average age at diagnosis was 40,0 ± 19,9 years. The most common complaints at presentation were pain and sensibility changes. All patients had a positive Tinel sign when the lesion was percussed. In all patients surgery was undertaken and the tumors removed. In 4 patients nerve integrity was maintained. In one patient with excruciating pain a segment of the nerve had to be excised and the nerve defect was bridged with sural nerve grafts. Results: Pathology examination of the resected specimens revealed a Schwannoma in 4 cases and a neurofibroma in the patient submitted to segmental nerve resection. Two years postoperatively, no recurrences were observed. All patients revealed clinical improvement. The patient submitted to nerve resection had improvement in pain, but presented diminished strength and sensibility in the involved nerve territory. Conclusion: Surgical excision of BP tumors is not a risk free procedure. Most authors suggest surgery if the lesion is symptomatic or progressing in size. If the tumor is stationary and not associated with neurological dysfunction a conservative approach should be taken.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-377
Number of pages6
JournalActa Reumatologica Portuguesa
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Brachial plexus
  • Neurofibroma
  • Peripheral nerve sheath tumor
  • Schwannoma
  • Surgery
  • Upper Limb


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