Pathogenesis and treatment of a giant occipital bone defect with meningoencephalocele in an NF1 child: case report and review of the literature

Childs Nerv Syst. 2024 Jan;40(1):27-39. doi: 10.1007/s00381-023-06232-4. Epub 2023 Nov 23.


Autosomal dominantly inherited neurofibromatosis type I (NF1) is a systemic disorder caused by a mutation of a gene on chromosome 17q11.2 and characterized by multiple café-au-lait spots, lentiginous macules, Lisch nodules of the iris, and tumors of the nervous system. Bony manifestations such as scoliosis, dysplasia of the greater sphenoidal wing, tibial pseudoarthrosis, short stature, and macrocephaly have been reported in approximately 50% of patients. However, calvarial bone defects are rare. After screening 324 articles, 23 cases (12 adult and 11 pediatric patients) of occipital bone defects in NF1 patients were selected. All patients had a single/multiple bone defect over the lambdoid suture. Adjacent benign plexiform neurofibromas were observed in 14 patients (60.8%, 7 adults and 7 children); one adult patient was diagnosed with neurofibrosarcoma. Meningoencephalocele over the occipital defect was noted in 8 cases (34.78%, all adults). Cranioplasty was performed in only 17.39% of patients. Histologic examination was performed in 7 of the 15 patients with associated neurofibromas/neurofibrosarcomas. Biopsy of the bone margins surrounding the defect was performed in only one case. Pathologic examination of the herniated parieto-occipital or cerebellar tissue was not performed in any of the patients studied. We report the case of a 9-year-old girl with NF1 and a significant occipital bone defect and performed a systematic review of the relevant literature to highlight the challenges in treating this condition and to investigate the underlying mechanisms contributing to bone defects or dysplasia in NF1.

Keywords: Bone dysplasia; Calvarial defect; Neurofibromatosis type 1; Skull defect; Suboccipital meningocele.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cafe-au-Lait Spots / complications
  • Cafe-au-Lait Spots / surgery
  • Child
  • Encephalocele / complications
  • Encephalocele / diagnostic imaging
  • Encephalocele / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Neurofibromatosis 1* / complications
  • Neurofibromatosis 1* / diagnostic imaging
  • Occipital Bone / pathology