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Neurosurgery. 2006 Dec;59(6):1195-201; discussion 1201-2.

Endoscopic resection of thoracic paravertebral and dumbbell tumors.

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Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Center, Department of Neurosurgery, St. Luke's/Roosevelt, and Beth Israel Medical Centers, New York, New York 10019, USA.



Neurogenic paravertebral tumors are uncommon neoplasms arising from neurogenic elements within the thorax. These tumors may be dumbbell shaped, extending into the spinal canal or exclusively paraspinal. Generally encapsulated, they are located in the posterior mediastinum. In this report, we present our experience in the thoracoscopic resection of these tumors, including surgical technique and potential pitfalls.


A retrospective review of patients undergoing endoscopic surgery for paravertebral tumors was undertaken. Patient demographics, charts, operative reports, and pre- and postoperative images were reviewed.


Between 1997 and 2004, 13 patients were treated thoracoscopically for paravertebral tumors in our departments. Our population consisted of four men and nine women. The median age was 44.9 years (range, 29-66 yr). Eight patients presented with pain, dyspnea, cough, and weakness. Five patients had tumors found incidentally. Sizes of the tumors varied from 3 to 9 cm. Final pathology included four neurofibromas, eight schwannomas, and one unclassified granular cell tumor. Gross total resection was achieved endoscopically in all cases. Three patients required a hemilaminectomy for resection of the intraspinal dumbbell component of the tumor during the same operation. The mean operative time was 229.5 minutes. The mean estimated blood loss was 371.1 ml. Postoperative morbidities included one each of tongue swelling, ulnar neuropathy, and intercostal hyperesthesia. The mean hospital stay was 2.8 days.


Paravertebral tumors in the posterior mediastinum are amenable to endoscopic removal, even in hard to reach locations. Tumors with intraspinal extension can be removed concurrently by performing a hemilaminectomy, followed by thoracoscopy, without the need for a thoracotomy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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