Transitory, spontaneously recovering, peripheral facial nerve palsy after vinorelbine administration

Maura Massimino, F. Simonetti, M. R. Balestrini, F. Spreafico, M. La Spina, M. Terenziani, L. Gandola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Childhood intrinsic brain-stem gliomas have a dismal prognosis. Different treatment strategies have been adopted over the years without changing the final outcome of this ominous disease. Due to this grim prognosis, experimental therapeutic designs are worthwhile. Vinorelbine is a semi-synthetic vinca alkaloid that has demonstrated a broad spectrum of activity both in in vitro and in vivo experimental systems. By adopting vinorelbine during and after focal radiotherapy in the last two years, we have tried to evocate its known synergistic effect in brain-stem tumour control. Vinorelbine was administered intravenously before, during and after radiotherapy on tumour bed for a total duration of 10 months. All the consecutive patients whose clinical and radiological features corresponded to the diagnosis of an intrinsic brain-stem tumour, i.e., diffuse pontine glioma, have been accrued to this treatment protocol since July 2002. A histological assessment was not required. All patients were treated during hospital stay or in the outpatient clinic at the Istituto Nazionale Tumori of Milan (n=12) and at the Pediatric Clinic of Policlinico in Catania (n=1). Two of the thirteen patients so far treated have developed multiple subsequent, and transitory, episodes of monolateral peripheral facial nerve palsy during vinorelbine administration. The palsy always completely and spontaneously resolved at a short interval - around 30 min - after the end of the drug infusion. Obvious tumour progression was excluded by means of MRI; therefore the drug was administered as scheduled until the end of the treatment. We describe possible neurological and oncological implications of this unusual side effect, until now not reported in any other series dealing with vinorelbine as adjuvant treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-113
Number of pages4
JournalNeurological Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006


  • Childhood brain-stem tumours
  • Unusual side effects
  • Vinorelbine toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


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