Background: Extradural schwannomas arising from the sympathetic chain are uncommon benign nerve sheath tumors. We present our experience with three patients having such tumors located in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions and we describe clinical presentation, surgical treatment, and outcomes. Methods: Between 2002 and 2006, the medical records of three patients with pathologically proven sympathetic schwannomas at the Moffitt Cancer Center were reviewed retrospectively. Results: The three patients were female, with a mean age of 44 years. Presentation and symptomatology varied between patients, and radiographic findings were not diagnostic. Complete excision of tumors was performed in all three patients without added morbidity or mortality. Surgical observation, histopathology, and immunohistochemistry confirmed the tumors to be schwannomas arising from the sympathetic chain. The schwannomas had a mean diameter of 3.2 cm and were all benign. At a mean follow-up of 21 months following resection, all patients remained free of disease recurrence. Conclusions: Sympathetic schwannomas are rare tumors that are difficult to diagnose preoperatively. Diagnosis relies on clinical suspicion, and confirmation is often obtained by means of surgical pathology. Long-term surveillance is not recommended and surgical excision should be considered for this tumor, even though the tumor is considered benign and recurrence is rare.
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