Robotic resection of a nerve sheath tumor via a retroperitoneal approach

Benjamin I. Rapoport, Christina Sze, Xi Chen, Ibrahim Hussain, Mark H. Bilsky, Ilya Laufer, Alvin C. Goh, Ori Barzilai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Resection of large nerve sheath tumors in the lumbar spine using minimally invasive approaches is challenging, as approaches to tumors in this region may require facetectomy or partial resection of adjacent ribs for access to the involved neuroforamen and instrumentation across the involved joint to prevent subsequent kyphotic deformity. OBJECTIVE: To describe a robot-assisted retroperitoneal approach for resection of a lumbar nerve sheath tumor, obviating the need for facetectomy and instrumentation. The operation is described, together with intraoperative images and an annotated video, in the context of a schwannoma arising from the right L1 root. METHODS: The operation was performed by a urologic surgeon and a neurosurgeon. The patient was placed in lateral position, and the da Vinci Xi robot was used for retroperitoneal access via 5 ports along the right flank. Ultrasound was used to localize the tumor within the psoas. The tumor capsule was defined and released. Encountered nerves were stimulated, allowing small sensory nerves to be identified and safely divided. The tumor was traced into the right L1-L2 neuroforamen and removed. RESULTS: Complete en bloc resection of the tumor was achieved, including the paraspinal and foraminal components, without any removal of bone and without violation of the dura. CONCLUSION: In selected patients, a robot-assisted retroperitoneal approach represents a minimally invasive alternative to traditional approaches for resection of lumbar nerve sheath tumors. This approach obviates the need for bone removal and instrumented spinal fusion. Interdisciplinary collaboration, as well as use of adjunctive technologies, including intraoperative ultrasound and neurophysiologic monitoring, is advised.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E85-E90
JournalOperative Neurosurgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • da Vinci
  • Nerve sheath tumor
  • Retroperitoneal
  • Robot-assisted
  • Robotic
  • Robotic surgery
  • Schwannoma


Dive into the research topics of 'Robotic resection of a nerve sheath tumor via a retroperitoneal approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this