Objective: The presentation, screening, management, and clinical outcomes of patients who presented to our institution from 1973 to 1999 with central nervous system (CNS) hemangioblastomas in von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) syndrome and sporadic disease were analyzed.
Methods: The surgical pathology database of our institution was searched to identify all patients with histologically verified CNS hemangioblastomas occurring from 1973 to 1999. The medical, radiological, surgical, pathological, and autopsy records from these patients were reviewed retrospectively and statistically analyzed.
Results: Forty patients (21 males and 19 females) presented with CNS hemangioblastomas. Twenty-five patients (62%) harbored sporadic hemangioblastomas. Fifteen patients (38%) had VHL syndrome. These 40 patients presented with 61 hemangioblastomas (8 patients had multiple lesions). Ten patients (25%) harbored spinal cord hemangioblastomas (5 patients had multiple lesions). Patients with VHL disease tended to present with neurological symptoms and signs at a younger age than patients with sporadic disease (P = 0.09), to present with multiple lesions (53%), and to develop new lesions (rate, 1 lesion/2.1 yr). Hemangioblastomas of the spinal cord were more prevalent in patients with VHL syndrome (P = 0.024). Neuroradiological screening of patients with VHL syndrome allowed identification of more than 75% of new lesions before they became symptomatic. Sixty-six surgical procedures were performed (12 patients required multiple operations). Six patients with VHL syndrome required surgery for new lesions. Surgical complications occurred in six patients (15%). Symptom resolution or arrest of progression at 1 year was documented in 88% of patients. Recurrence of symptoms from partially resected lesions occurred in eight patients (20%). No deaths associated with surgery occurred. One patient with sporadic disease and one patient with VHL syndrome (5%) died as a result of late medical complications from CNS hemangioblastomas.
Conclusion: Surgical outcomes for patients with CNS hemangioblastomas are favorable. However, management of hemangioblastomas is a more difficult and prolonged endeavor for patients with VHL syndrome. In patients with VHL syndrome, neuroradiological screening allows identification of lesions before they become symptomatic. Because patients with VHL syndrome are at risk for development of new lesions, they require lifelong follow-up.