Diagnosis and management of cervical sympathetic chain schwannoma: A review of 9 cases

Toshiki Tomita, Hiroyuki Ozawa, Koji Sakamoto, Kaoru Ogawa, Kaori Kameyama, Masato Fujii

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Conclusions. Cervical sympathetic chain schwannoma (CSCS) sometimes mimics carotid body tumor (CBT). Differential diagnosis between these tumors is sometimes difficult using MRI alone. MRA, color Doppler ultrasonography, and fine needle aspiration (FNA) after imaging may be helpful to rule out CBT. Surgical resection of CSCS is relatively effortless, and Horner's syndrome is an expected but acceptable postoperative complication. Intratumoral hemorrhage and vasodilation may be the main reasons for significant enhancement on MRI. Objectives. CSCSs are rare and known to mimic carotid body tumors. We report 9 cases of CSCS with an emphasis on imaging, surgical management, and pathological findings. Moreover, we describe the differential diagnosis of CSCS and CBT, and speculate the reasons behind significant enhancement on MRI. Patients and methods. Nine cases of CSCS treated at a tertiary referral center between 1996 and 2008 were reviewed. Results. MRI revealed 3 of 9 cases (33%) splayed the carotid bifurcation and displayed marked contrast enhancement with gadolinium. All patients underwent surgical excision of the mass with minimal blood loss. Postoperative Horner's syndrome was encountered in all patients, which required no treatment. Marked gadolinium enhancement tended to be associated with histological findings such as intratumoral hemorrhage and vasodilation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-329
Number of pages6
JournalActa Oto-Laryngologica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Mar


  • Carotid body tumor
  • Cervical sympathetic chain
  • Horner's syndrome
  • MRI
  • Schwannoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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