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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 402-405

Pathological diversity in schwannomas of the orofacial region

Department of Oral Pathology, Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission15-Oct-2020
Date of Acceptance15-Feb-2021
Date of Web Publication28-May-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Aadithya Basavaraj Urs
Department of Oral Pathology, Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences, MAMC Complex, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi - 110 002
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ajns.AJNS_470_20

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Schwannoma is a slow-growing, encapsulated benign tumor of the neuroectodermal origin arising from the perineural Schwann cells. This study aims to elucidate the clinicoradiographical and histopathological features of orofacial schwannomas through a case series of seven cases. The patients' aged ranged from 13 to 45 years, with a male predilection in the ratio of 5:2. One intraosseous case presented as a radiolucent lesion. All the cases exhibited Antoni A and Antoni B type of microscopic patterns in varying amounts. One case of ancient schwannoma showed degenerative features. The tumor cells showed diffuse positive immunohistochemical reaction for S-100 protein. Our study suggests that intraosseous schwannoma should be considered in the differential diagnosis of the intraosseous jaw lesions. Histopathologically, it is important to recognize the findings of ancient schwannoma and to avoid misdiagnosing it as a malignant lesion.

Keywords: Ancient schwannoma, Antoni A and Antoni B areas, intraosseous schwannoma, S-100 protein, Verocay bodies

How to cite this article:
Urs AB, Kumar P, Augustine J, Malhotra R, Jot K. Pathological diversity in schwannomas of the orofacial region. Asian J Neurosurg 2021;16:402-5

How to cite this URL:
Urs AB, Kumar P, Augustine J, Malhotra R, Jot K. Pathological diversity in schwannomas of the orofacial region. Asian J Neurosurg [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Jun 18];16:402-5. Available from:

  Introduction Top

Schwannoma or neurilemmoma is a slow-growing, encapsulated benign tumor of neuroectodermal origin arising from the perineural Schwann cells.[1],[2] It was first named neurinoma by Verocay in 1910. Term schwannoma was introduced by Masson (1932). Later, the term neurilemmoma was coined by Stout (1935).[3] Approximately 25%–45% of cases are seen in the head and neck region, of which 0.5%–1% are found within the oral cavity. Intraorally, tongue is the most common site involved. It usually presents as an asymptomatic, solitary submucosal mass in the oral cavity.[1],[4] Intraosseous presentation is rare (less than 1%), with mandible being more commonly involved.[5]

Histologically, schwannoma is usually an encapsulated tumor, consisting of mixture of two cellular patterns: Antoni type A and Antoni type B.[6] Antoni type A tissue is characterized by streaming fascicles of palisaded spindle-shaped Schwann cells with twisted nuclei around central acellular eosinophilic areas known as Verocay bodies. Antoni type B areas are characterized by less cellular and less organized spindle or oval cells within a loose myxoid hypocellular matrix.[3],[6] Conventional schwannomas that exhibit hyperchromatic, atypical, and pleomorphic nuclei along with areas of hemorrhage and hemosiderin are diagnosed as ancient schwannoma. Ancient schwannoma is an unusual variant of schwannoma.[7]

  Material and methods Top

Archival data of seven cases of schwannoma were retrieved from the files of the Department of Oral Pathology, Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences, New Delhi. 3-μm thick sections of paraffin-embedded tissues were stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H and E) and reviewed.

Immunohistochemistry (S-100, vimentin, desmin, smooth muscle actin [SMA], and cytokeratin) was performed by conventional standard technique with streptavidin–biotin immunoperoxidase method to confirm diagnosis in instances where H and E stain was insufficient for a confirmatory diagnosis.

In the present case series of seven cases, all lesions were soft in consistency, present in different regions of head and neck including tongue, pterygomandibular raphe, mandibular anterior tooth region, palate, preauricular region, and maxillary vestibule with one intraosseous lesion involving anterior maxilla [Figure 1]. All the lesions were slow growing (range of 3 months to 9 years) with a mean size of 2.5 cm × 2.2 cm. 71.4% of te patients were male with age ranging from 13 to 45 years.
Figure 1: Intraosseous schwannoma. (a) Solitary swelling of approximately 4 cm × 3 cm was observed in the anterior maxilla in relation to #11, 12, and 21 teeth. On palpation, it was nontender and bony hard in consistency with no fluctuation or softening in any part of the swelling. (b) Periapical radiograph mimicking a presentation of periapical pathology. (c) Orthopantomograph revealed ill-defined radiolucent lesion with interrupted corticated border in relation to #11, 12, and 21 teeth (Case 3)

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Macroscopically, the cut sections showed homogenous gray-white areas [Figure 2]. The characteristic microscopic features of schwannoma were seen in all the cases. 71.4% of cases were encapsulated. The mixture of Antoni A and Antoni B areas was found in all the cases. 85.7% of cases showed foci of myxoid changes and 57.1% of the cases showed microcyst formation. Mild-to-moderate chronic inflammatory cell infiltrate was found in all the cases [Figure 3]a and [Figure 3]b. One case (Case 1) showed degenerative features including nuclear atypia, pleomorphism, and hyalinization and was thus diagnosed as ancient schwannoma [Figure 3]c and [Figure 3]d. To confirm the diagnosis, immunohistochemistry was done by using S-100, vimentin, cytokeratin, desmin, and SMA [Figure 3]e and [Figure 3]f. The clinical findings are summarized in [Table 1] and histopathological findings are summarized in [Table 2].
Figure 2: (a and b) Macroscopically tissue was globoid shaped and tan in color. It consisted of a capsule and homogeneously firm in texture (Case 3 and Case 4)

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Figure 3: (a) Photomicrograph showing Antoni type A areas composed of spindle-shaped tumor cells with palisaded nuclei surrounding the amorphous eosinophilic central Verocay bodies. (b) Antoni type B areas composed of less cellular and less organized loosely fibrous background. (c) Ancient schwannoma consisting of degenerative features – microcyst formation and (d) cellular pleomorphism and nuclear atypia. (e) S-100–positive expression. (f) Positive expression of vimentin

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Table 1: Summary of clinical features of schwannomas

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Table 2: Summary of histopathological features of schwannomas

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  Discussion Top

Schwannomas are solitary tumors and usually originate from the proliferation of Schwann cells in the perineurium of the peripheral, cranial, or autonomic nerves, which usually result in displacement and compression of the adjacent nerves.[1] The pathogenetic mechanism responsible for tumor is loss of function of merlin, the protein encoded by the neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) gene. Loss of function of merlin, either by direct genetic change involving the NF2 gene on chromosome 22 or secondarily to merlin inactivation, results in downstreaming of its signaling pathways which lead to formation of tumor.[2]

Schwannomas occur most frequently in middle-aged individuals (25–55 years).[3],[4] In our case series, the age ranged from 13 to 45 years with M: F ratio of 5:2 showing male predominance. Similar studies were reported by Williams et al., where males were affected more frequently.[8] Study by Lucas found a female predominance, while other studies found no gender predilection.[4],[9] Based on their location, two types of schwannomas are described: peripheral (extraosseous) and central (intraosseous).[10],[11] Many authors found that tongue is the most frequent site of occurrence.[4],[12],[13] In the present case series, all the lesions were present on different regions of head and neck.

Clinically, these soft tissue tumors may be mistaken for other benign lesions such as peripheral ossifying fibroma, traumatic fibroma, and pleomorphic adenoma. In the current case series, the tumor was present as soft tissue submucosal nodule on different sites in the head and neck region, with one case of central schwannoma. Less than 1% of lesions are intraosseous and predominantly involve the mandible. It is considered that there are three mechanisms by which schwannomas may involve bone: (a) a tumor may arise centrally within bone, (b) a tumor may arise within the nutrient canal and cause canal enlargement, or (c) a soft tissue or periosteal tumor may cause secondary erosion and penetration into bone.[14],[15] Radiographically, intraosseous schwannomas are difficult to differentiate from other bone lesions such as fibrous dysplasia, neurofibroma, central giant cell lesion, or periapical lesion.[14] Maxillary schwannomas are extremely rare. To the best of our knowledge, only 13 cases of maxillary schwannomas have been reported till date. The central schwannoma in our case series involved the anterior maxilla (Case 3).

Histopathologically, schwannomas are unilocular encapsulated masses. In the current case series, all the cases showed features of conventional schwannoma consisting of two cellular patterns: Antoni type A and Antoni type B.[2],[16],[17]

Ancient schwannoma is an unusual variant of schwannoma. It was first described in the thorax by Ackerman and Taylor in 1951.[7] It is a rare benign encapsulated long-standing tumor. Histologically, it consists of degenerative changes along with presence of Antoni A and Antoni B cellular areas. Degenerative features are represented by areas of hemorrhage, hemosiderin deposits, inflammation, fibrosis, hyalinization, and nuclear atypia.[2],[7],[16],[17] It is believed that long history of the lesion could be the cause of the transformation to an “ancient” variant.[18] Out of current case series, one case (Case 1) showed features of ancient schwannoma. The duration of the lesion was 3 years. Histopathologically, it showed cellular atypia, nuclear hyperchromasia, and pleomorphism with some areas showing interstitial hyalinization.

Immunohistochemically, the cases showing S-100 (highly reactive) and vimentin (weakly reactive) positivity were diagnosis as schwannoma. S-100 is an acidic protein which usually stains the neural crest derivatives. It is consistently expressed in schwannomas as majority of the cells of schwannomas have Schwann cell antigenic phenotype.[8]

In conclusion, we recommend that intraosseous schwannoma should be considered in the differential diagnosis of intraosseous lesions of the head and neck region. As ancient schwannoma shows degenerative features, it is important to recognize the histopathological findings to reach the correct diagnosis. The treatment option for schwannoma is surgical removal, and recurrence after local excision is rare.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Zachariades N, Mezitis M, Vairaktaris E, Triantafyllou D, Skoura-Kafoussia C, Konsolaki-Agouridaki E, et al. Benign neurogenic tumors of the oral cavity. Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg 1987;16:70-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
Hilton DA, Hanemann CO. Schwannomas and their pathogenesis. Brain Pathol 2014;24:205-20.  Back to cited text no. 2
Putney FJ, Moran JJ, Thomas GK. Neurogenic tumors of the head and neck. Laryngoscope 1964;74:1037-59.  Back to cited text no. 3
Hatziotia JC, Asprides H. Neurilemoma (schwannoma) or the oral cavity. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol 1967;24:510-26.  Back to cited text no. 4
Buric N, Jovanovic G, Pesic Z, Krasic D, Radovanovic Z, Mihailovic D, et al. Mandible schwannoma (neurilemmoma) presenting as periapical lesion. Dentomaxillofac Radiol 2009;38:178-81.  Back to cited text no. 5
Akimoto Y, Yamamoto H, Nishimura H, Komiya M, Kaneko K. Neurilemmoma in the oral cavity. J Nihon Univ Sch Dent 1987;29:203-5.  Back to cited text no. 6
Wright BA, Jackson D. Neural tumors of the oral cavity. A review of the spectrum of benign and malignant oral tumors of the oral cavity and jaws. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol 1980;49:509-22.  Back to cited text no. 7
Williams HK, Cannell H, Silvester K, Williams DM. Neurilemmoma of the head and neck. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2014;52:970-3.  Back to cited text no. 8
Lucas RB. Pathology of Tumours of the Oral Tissues. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone; 1984.  Back to cited text no. 9
Minić AJ. Central schwannoma of the maxilla. Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg 1992;21:297-8.  Back to cited text no. 10
Meundi MA, Anekar J, A C R, Patil US, Mustafa SM. Intraosseous schwannoma of the maxilla mimicking a periapical lesion: A diagnostic challenge. J Clin Diagn Res 2015;9:ZD01-4.  Back to cited text no. 11
Lira RB, Gonçalves Filho J, Carvalho GB, Pinto CA, Kowalski LP. Lingual schwannoma: Case report and review of the literature. Acta Otorhinolaryngol Ital 2013;33:137-40.  Back to cited text no. 12
Lee EY, Kim JJ, Seok H, Lee JY. Schwannoma of the tongue: A case report with review of literature. Maxillofac Plast Reconstr Surg 2017;39:17.  Back to cited text no. 13
Chi AC, Carey J, Muller S. Intraosseous schwannoma of the mandible: A case report and review of the literature. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 2003;96:54-65.  Back to cited text no. 14
Samter TG, Vellios F, Shafer WG. Neurilemmona of bone. Report of 3 cases with a review of the literature. Radiology 1960;75:215-22.  Back to cited text no. 15
Kurtkaya-Yapicier O, Scheithauer B, Woodruff JM. The pathobiologic spectrum of Schwannomas. Histol Histopathol 2003;18:925-34.  Back to cited text no. 16
Patil SB, Chatura KR. Schwannoma and its unusual variants – A histopathological study. Indian J Pathol Oncol 2016;3:727-31.  Back to cited text no. 17
Gainza-Cirauqui ML, Eguía-Del Valle A, Martínez-Conde R, Coca-Meneses JC, Aguirre-Urizar JM. Ancient schwannoma of the hard palate. An uncommon case report and review. J Clin Exp Dent 2013;5:e62-5.  Back to cited text no. 18


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

  [Table 1], [Table 2]


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