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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 10  |  Page : 496-468

Gallbladder neurofibroma presenting as chronic epigastric pain - Case report and review of the literature

1 Department of Surgery, Abington Memorial Hospital, Abington, Pennsylvania, USA
2 Department of Surgery, Geisinger Health System, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA
3 Department of Surgery, Peconic Bay Medical Center, Riverhead, New York, USA
4 Endless Mountains Health System, Montrose, Pennsylvania, USA

Date of Web Publication9-Nov-2011

Correspondence Address:
Iswanto Sucandy
Department of Surgery, Abington Memorial Hospital, 1200 Old York Road, Abington, PA 19001
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Context: Benign nonepithelial neoplasms of the gallbladder are unusual. The majority of gallbladder neurofibromas are found incidentally in the gallbladder specimens following cholecystectomy. There have been only few reports in the literature describing this rare entity. In this study we report a case of gallbladder neurofibroma presenting as chronic epigastric pain in a young patient. Case Report: A thirty two year old otherwise healthy man presented to our clinic with chronic epigastric pain symptom after eating. Physical examination, laboratory and radiologic workups were unremarkable for signs of biliary tract diseases. Past medical and surgical histories were significant only for neurofibromatosis type I. Due to persistent symptomatology, the patient was taken to the operating room for a diagnostic laparoscopy followed by laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Open conversion was necessitated because of the presence of a gallbladder mass preventing safe anatomic dissection. Surgical pathology revealed plexiform neurofibroma with noninflamed gallbladder. The postoperative course was unremarkable and the patient was pain free at 3 weeks postoperatively. Conclusions: Benign neoplasms such as gallbladder neurofibroma should be included in the differential diagnosis for chronic epigastric pain symptom in a young otherwise healthy patient with neurofibromatosis. Diagnostic laparoscopy should be considered in an individual presenting with this condition.

Keywords: Neurofibroma, gallbladder, benign tumors.

How to cite this article:
Sucandy I, Sharma D, Dalencourt G, Bertsch DJ. Gallbladder neurofibroma presenting as chronic epigastric pain - Case report and review of the literature. North Am J Med Sci 2010;2:496

How to cite this URL:
Sucandy I, Sharma D, Dalencourt G, Bertsch DJ. Gallbladder neurofibroma presenting as chronic epigastric pain - Case report and review of the literature. North Am J Med Sci [serial online] 2010 [cited 2023 Mar 21];2:496. Available from: https://www.najms.org/text.asp?2010/2/10/496/86461

  Introduction Top

Neurofibroma is a benign and slowly growing tumor arising in a nerve structure and composed primarily of Schwann cells. This benign tumor can occur as a solitary lesion or more commonly is associated with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF-1). While most neurofibromas commonly occur as superficial skin or subcutaneous lesions, neurofibromas of abdominal viscera are seen infrequently and when they occur in this location, they are usually associated with NF-1 [1] .

Despite cholecystectomy having been the most commonly performed operation by general surgeons for many decades, there are only a few reports describing gallbladder neurofibroma in the clinical literature.

  Case Report Top

A 32-year-old man presented to our clinic with a one-year history of epigastric pain and dyspepsia related to meals. Past medical/surgical/social histories were significant only for NF-1. Physical examination, liver function tests, abdominal ultrasonography and hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan were otherwise unremarkable for signs of biliary tract pathology. Due to the unrelenting symptoms, the decision was made to proceed with diagnostic laparoscopy and possible cholecystectomy. Upon exploration of the right upper quadrant, the gallbladder was found to have markedly thickened wall with a dense soft tissue bundle along its medial aspect extending down to the hepatocystic triangle. Due to the difficulty in achieving a critical view of the cystic duct and artery, the operation was converted to an open cholecystectomy. The resected specimen measured 8 x 5 cm with a soft tissue mass protruding from the gallbladder wall [Figure 1] and [Figure 2].
Figure 1: Intact gallbladder specimen following the operation. Neurofibroma extended along the inferior wall of the gallbladder from the cystic duct to the fundus, protruding extraluminally.

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Figure 2: Opened gallbladder specimen showing mural nodules and normal mucosa. Gallbladder appeared to be normal without signs of inflammation. Silk sutures were used to ligate the cystic duct prior to division.

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Surgical pathology revealed a plexiform neurofibroma with noninflamed gallbladder tissues. Photomicrograph showed diffuse neurofibroma cells with short fusiform and round shapes within fine fibrillary collagen matrix [Figure 3]. The postoperative course was unremarkable and at three-week followup, the patient had complete resolution of his epigastric symptoms.
Figure 3: Histologic appearance of gallbladder neurofibroma. Photomicrograph shows diffuse neurofibroma cells with short fusiform and round shapes within fine fibrillary collagen matrix.

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  Discussion Top

Benign tumors of the gallbladder are rare and lesions of neural origin are even more unusual. Such benign growths include paragangliomas that presumably arise from paraganglia of the gallbladder, neuromas of the cystic duct remnant, or granular cell myoblastomas. Neurofibromas are formed by a combined proliferation of all components of peripheral nerve with Schwann's cell usually being the predominant element. On histopathology, they appear as spindle-shaped cells positively stained with immunoperoxidase technique.

The incidence of hepatobiliary neurofibromas is lower than that of other digestive organs. In the gastrointestinal tract, neurofibromas are most commonly located in the ileum, followed by the jejunum, duodenum and stomach [2] . In a case described by Hochberg et al , the most common sites affected were the jejunum and stomach [3] . Gastrointestinal involvement of von Recklingshausen's disease essentially occurs in three forms: (a) hyperplasia of the submucosa and myenteric plexus with mucosal ganglioneuromatosis, (b) gastrointestinal stromal tumor showing varying degrees of neural and smooth muscle differentiation, (c) somatostatin-rich carcinoid of the duodenum with psammoma bodies and which may be associated with pheochromocytoma [3],[4],[5] .

Ultrasononographic imaging often demonstrates either localized thickening of the gallbladder wall or broad based elevation of the mucosa. Riopelle has described superficial or mucosal, and deep or adventitial neurofibromatosis [6] . Grossly, the appearance of a gallbladder neurofibroma can be very similar to that of a coexisting cholesterol polyp.

Based on the literature review presented in [Table 1], most neurofibromas are found incidentally following cholecystectomy for symptomatic cholelithiasis or chronic cholecystitis. Gender distribution is equal with mean age of 57.9 (range=32-77). Approximately 50% of patients were found to have associated gallstones. Neurofibromatosis mainly occured in the body of gallbladder and presented as a mural nodule that can protrude either intra or extraluminally. With further technological advances in diagnostic imaging, these lesions will likely be identified in increasing frequency. Cholecystectomy is the current standard of treatment.
Table 1: Previously published reports on gallbladder neurofibroma

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  Conclusion Top

Benign neoplasms such as gallbladder neurofibromas should be included in the differential diagnosis for chronic epigastric pain symptom in patients with neurofibromatosis. Diagnostic laparoscopy followed by cholecystectomy is recommended for this condition.[12]

  References Top

1.Acebo E, Fernandez FA, Val-Bernal F. Solitary Neurofibroma of the gallbladder. A case report and review of the literature. Gen Diagn Pathol 1997/98; 143:337-340.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Young SJ. Primary malignant neurilemmoma (Schwannona) of the liver in neurofibromatosis. J Pathol 1975; 177 :151-153.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Hochberg FH, Da Silva AB, Galdavini J, et al. Gastrointestinal involvement in von Recklinghausen's neurofibromatosis. Neurology 1974; 24: 1144-1151.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Fuller CE, Williams GT. Gastrointestinal manifestation of type 1 neurofibromatosis (von Recklinghausens's disease). Histopathology 1991; 19: 1-11.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Shekitka KM, Sobin LH. Ganglineuromas of the gastrointestinal tract. Relation to von Recklinghausen disease and other multiple rumor syndromes. Am J Surg Pathol 1994; 18 : 250-257.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Riopelle JL. Sur les proliferations nerveuses de la vesicule biliaire (neuromatoses vesicularies). J l'Hotel-Dieu de Montreal 1942; 11:3-7.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Aisner SC, Khaneja S, Ramirez O. Multiple granular cell tumors of the gallbladder and biliary tree. Arch Pathol Lab Med 1982; 106: 470-471.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Albores-Saavedra J, Vardaman CJ, Vuitch F. Non-neoplastic polypoid lesions and adenomas of the gallbladder. Pathol Ann Part 1993; 1:145-77.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Arbab AA, Brasfield R. Benign tumors of the gallbladder. Surgery 1967; 61:535-540.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Christensen AH, Ishak KG. Benign tumors and pseudotumor of the gallbladder. Report of 180 cases. Arch Pathol 1970; 90 :423-432.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Eggleston JF, Goldman RL. Neurofibroma and elastosis of the gallbladder : Report of an unusual case. Am J Gastroenterol 1982; 77:335-337.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Elhag AM, Al Awadi NZ. Amputation neuroma of the gallbladder. Histopathology1992; 21:586-587.  Back to cited text no. 12


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

  [Table 1]


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