Solitary fibrous tumor arising from Cranial Nerve VI in the prepontine cistern: case report and review of a tumor subpopulation mimicking schwannoma

Neurosurgery. 2006 Oct;59(4):E939-40; discussion E940. doi: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000232660.21537.60.


Objective: The authors present a report of a solitary fibrous tumor (SFT) arising from the intradural component of the VIth cranial nerve as it travels through the prepontine cistern. SFTs of the central nervous system are extremely rare entities that clinically masquerade as dural-based lesions, such as meningiomas or hemangiopericytomas. Because of their infrequency and clinical similarity to other central nervous system (CNS) lesions, diagnosis is largely dependent on pathological features. In this study, the authors define a subpopulation of SFTs that seem to arise directly from nerve, rather than meninges, and clinically mimic the appearance of a schwannoma.

Clinical presentation: The patient was a 29-year-old woman with a several-month history of progressive right arm and leg numbness and mild hemiparesis, with the development of diplopia 2 weeks before admission. Outside imaging revealed a 3.9-cm mass in the prepontine cistern with extension into Meckel's cave and the cavernous sinus, resulting in significant brainstem compression.

Intervention: The patient underwent preoperative angiography with embolization of feeding vessels off of the left meningohypophyseal trunk. The patient was then taken to the operating room by a combined neurosurgical and ear, nose, and throat team, where the patient underwent a retrolabyrinthine/subtemporal craniotomy for tumor resection. During resection of the prepontine component, the tumor was identified as originating from the left Cranial Nerve VI as it traversed through the prepontine cistern. Resection of the tumor component involving the cavernous sinus and Meckel's cave was deferred for follow-up treatment with intensity-modulated radiation therapy. Pathological examination revealed tissue consistent with the diagnosis of SFT.

Conclusion: SFTs involving the CNS are rare entities that are almost always diagnosed after tissue is obtained because of their clinical and radiographic similarity to meningiomas. This patient had an SFT masquerading as a VIth cranial nerve schwannoma. Although the natural history of SFTs in the CNS is not completely understood, correct diagnosis is important, given the rate of recurrence found in the more common pleural-based SFT and examples of CNS SFTs with malignant features.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abducens Nerve*
  • Adult
  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Cranial Nerve Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Cranial Nerve Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Cranial Nerve Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cranial Nerve Neoplasms / surgery
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Fibroma / blood supply
  • Fibroma / diagnosis
  • Fibroma / pathology*
  • Fibroma / surgery
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neurilemmoma / pathology*
  • Pons*
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant