Epidermoid cysts constitute less than 1 % of intracranial tumors with the majority of them involving cerebellopontine angle (CPA). Although several mechanisms for cranial nerve dysfunction due to these tumors have been proposed, no direct evaluation for hyper- or hypoactive dysfunction has been done. In this case series, pathophysiology of cranial nerve dysfunction in CPA epidermoid cysts was evaluated with special attention to a new mechanism of capsule strangulation caused by stratified tumor capsule. Twenty-two cases with epidermoid cysts of CPA micro-neurosurgically treated in our departments since 2005 were reviewed. Clinical status of the patients before the surgery and post-operative functional outcome were recorded. Available data from the English literature were summarized for comparison. Mass reduction of cyst contents in most cases was usually associated with prompt and marked improvement of the symptoms suggesting neuroapraxia caused by compression of the tumor content and/or mild ischemia. Among them, two cases showed strangulation of the affected nerves by the tumor capsule whose preoperative dysfunction did not improve after surgery in spite of meticulous microsurgical removal of the lesion. Involved facial and abducent nerves in these two cases showed distortion of nerve axis and nerve atrophy distal to the strangulation site. We report the first direct evidence of etiology of cranial nerve dysfunction caused by cerebellopontine angle epidermoid tumors. Young age and rapidly progressive neurological deficit might be the characteristics for strangulation of the affected nerves by the cyst capsule. Even though the number of cases might be limited, immediate decompression and release of the strangulating band might be urged in such patients to prevent irreversible deficits.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology