Benign Peripheral Nerve Tumor
Benign peripheral nerve tumors are the tumor outgrowths that are found anywhere in the peripheral nerve endings in the body. These tumors occur within the nerve or on cells surrounding of the nerve fibres.
The peripheral nerves transmit signals and nerve impulses from brain to rest of the body. The nerve fibres are responsible for controlling muscle activity, movement, walking, blinking of the eye and also help in swallowing the food.
Benign peripheral nerve tumors are non-cancerous but the outgrowth of these tumors along the nerve fibres produce a wide range of complications such as nerve pain, nerve damage and loss of sensation in the limbs.
Depending on the location of tumor, peripheral tumor is classified into:
- Intraneural tumors- These tumors grow within the nerve fibres
- Extraneural tumors- These tumors grow outside the nerve fibres adjoining the surrounding nerves.
Benign peripheral nerve tumor produces symptoms that affect the nerve transmission in the body. The tumors may produce direct effect over the nerves, surrounding blood vessels and the organs. These tumors may also be pressed over the surrounding tissues, thereby leading to nerve pain.
The symptoms of benign peripheral nerve tumor include:
- Swelling or formation of lump beneath the skin
- Weakness and numbness of the limbs
- Pain and increased irritation at the site of tumor formation
- Loss of balance
The exact cause of benign peripheral nerve tumor is not known. However, they occur due to an inherited gene such as neurofibromatosis type-I and II and schwannomatosis.
The risk factors of benign peripheral nerve tumors include:
- Radiations: Frequent exposure to high-intensity radiations may increase the risk of developing the tumors.
- Neurofibromatosis and schwannomatosis: These are non-cancerous tumors that develop in the surrounding organs of the nerves. The growth of the tumor may cause damage to the nerve fibres and also leads to an increased risk of side effects.
Benign peripheral nerve tumors result in nerve compression that increases the risk of complications ranging from pain to loss of sensation in the affected area. The complications of benign peripheral nerve tumors include:
- Pain and inflammation
- Loss of sensation in the affected area
- Increased swelling in the affected area
- Numbness and weakness in the affected area
Depending on the physical findings and the neurological examination, the doctor recommends the following diagnostic procedures to confirm the presence of benign peripheral nerve tumors.
- Image scans: Imaging scan such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan and computed tomography (CT) scan are performed to confirm the exact size and location of the nerve tumor. The image scan provides a detailed view of the nerve tumor and the affected surrounding tissues.
- Electromyogram (EMG): The test is performed by placing small needles or plates over the skin to evaluate the electrical activity of the nerve fibres and their response to stimuli.
- Tumor biopsy: The test is performed to confirm the nature of the tumor to be cancerous or non-cancerous. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, the biopsy sample is collected for further evaluation of the nature of the tumor.
The size, location and the nature of the tumor depends on the mode of treatment of benign peripheral nerve tumor.
The following treatment procedures are adopted for treating peripheral nerve tumors:
Surgery: The traditional method of surgery is performed to remove either a part or the complete nerve tumor. The size and location of the tumor determines the risk of the surgery as surgeries involving nerve has a greater risk of complications.
However, with the development of modern surgical procedures, minimally invasive procedures use high-power microscopes to differentiate between tumor cell and normal nerve cell in the body.
Medication therapy: Medication therapy includes medicines to relieve the symptoms of pain, inflammation and loss of sensation.
Benign peripheral nerve tumor is non-cancerous and can be managed effectively by use of medications and surgery. Care should be taken to minimize the risk of post-surgery complications by use of rehabilitative therapy.
A regular follow-up with the doctor post-treatment helps in faster recovery from the symptoms of the tumor.