Neurosurgery Blog


Daily bibliographic review of the Neurosurgery Department. La Fe University Hospital. Valencia, Spain

Cystic Craniopharyngiomas: Microsurgical or Stereotactic Treatment?

Neurosurgery (2017) 80 (5): 733-743

Prognosis and treatment of cystic craniopharyngiomas are poorly defined.

OBJECTIVE: To analyze progression-free survival (PFS) and safety profile of cystic craniopharyngiomas undergoing resection or minimally invasive drainage procedures. We compared further outcome measurements for cystic and solid tumors undergoing resection to elucidate the impact of the initial tumor composition on both PFS and the toxicity profile.

METHODS: All patients with craniopharyngiomas consecutively treated between 1999 and 2014 were included. A treatment decision in favor of microsurgery or stereotactic treatment was made interdisciplinarily. For stereotactic drainage, a catheter was implanted, allowing both permanent upstream (into ventricular spaces) and downstream (into prepontine cistern) drainage. Study endpoints were tumor progression, functional outcome, and treatment toxicity. Functional endocrinological and visual outcome analyses referred to data obtained preoperatively and 6 weeks after treatment. The Kaplan-Meier method was used for survival analysis. Prognostic factors were obtained from proportional hazard models.

RESULTS: Seventy-nine patients were included. The distribution of clinical and tumor-related data was well balanced among patients with solid (n = 35) and cystic (n = 44) tumors and those undergoing microsurgical or stereotactic treatment. Cystic tumors had shorter PFS (5-year PFS: 53.6% vs 66.8%, P= .10) and needed significantly more therapeutic interventions, which was independent of the initial treatment mode. The endocrinological deterioration rate was high for both solid and cystic tumors after microsurgery (59.4% and 85.7%, respectively), whereas it was significantly lower for cystic tumors undergoing stereotactic treatment (23.1%, P < .001).

CONCLUSION: Stereotactic bidirectional drainage of cystic craniopharyngiomas is effective and provides a better endocrinological outcome than conventional microsurgery.

Outcomes in craniotomy vs endoscopic craniopharyngioma resection

Neurosurg Focus 41 (6):E6, 2016

Craniopharyngiomas have historically been resected via transcranial microsurgery (TCM). In the last 2 decades, the extended endoscopic endonasal (transtuberculum) approach to these tumors has become more widely accepted, yet there remains controversy over which approach leads to better outcomes. The purpose of this study is to determine whether differences in outcomes were identified between TCM and extended endoscopic endonasal approaches (EEEAs) in adult patients undergoing primary resection of suprasellar craniopharyngiomas at a single institution.

Methods A retrospective review of all patients who underwent resection of their histopathologically confirmed craniopharyngiomas at the authors’ institution between 2005 and 2015 was performed. Pediatric patients, revision cases, and patients with tumors greater than 2 standard deviations above the mean volume were excluded. The patients were divided into 2 groups: those undergoing primary TCM and those undergoing a primary EEEA. Preoperative patient demographics, presenting symptoms, and preoperative tumor volumes were determined. Extent of resection, tumor histological subtype, postoperative complications, and additional outcome data were obtained. Statistical significance between variables was determined utilizing Student t-tests, chi-square tests, and Fisher exact tests when applicable.

Results After exclusions, 21 patients satisfied the aforementioned inclusion criteria, 12 underwent TCM for resection while 9 benefitted from the EEEA. There were no significant differences in patient demographics, presenting symptoms, tumor subtype, or preoperative tumor volumes, no tumors had significant lateral or prechiasmatic extension. The extent of resection was similar between these 2 groups, as was the necessity for additional surgery or adjuvant therapy. CSF leakage was encountered only in the EEEA group (2 patients). Importantly, the rate of postoperative visual improvement was significantly higher in the EEEA group than in the TCM group (88.9% vs 25.0%, p = 0.0075). Postoperative visual deterioration only occurred in the TCM group (3 patients). Recurrence was uncommon, with similar rates between the groups. Other complication rates, overall complication risk, and additional outcome measures were similar between these groups as well.

Conclusions Based on this study, most outcome variables appear to be similar between TCM and EEEA routes for similarly sized tumors in adults. The multidisciplinary EEEA to craniopharyngioma resection represents a safe and compelling alternative to TCM. The authors’ data demonstrate that postoperative visual improvement is statistically more likely in the EEEA despite the increased risk of CSF leakage. These results add to the growing evidence that the EEEA may be considered the approach of choice for resection of select confined primary craniopharyngiomas without significant lateral extension in centers with experienced surgeons. Further prospective, multiinstitutional collaboration is needed to power studies capable of fully evaluating indications and appropriate approaches for craniopharyngiomas.

Microscopic versus endoscopic approaches for craniopharyngiomas


Neurosurg Focus 41 (6):E5, 2016

Resection remains the mainstay of treatment for craniopharyngiomas with the goal of radical resection, if safely possible, to minimize the rate of recurrence. Endoscopic endonasal and microscopic transcranial surgical approaches have both become standard methods for the treatment for craniopharyngiomas. However, the approach selection paradigm for craniopharyngiomas is still a point of discussion. Choosing the optimal surgical approach can play a significant role in maximizing the extent of resection and surgical outcome while minimizing the risks of potential complications.

Craniopharyngiomas can present with a variety of different sizes, locations, and tumor consistencies, and each individual tumor has distinct features that favor one specific approach over another.

The authors review standard cranial base techniques applied to craniopharyngioma surgery, using both the endoscopic endonasal approach and traditional open microsurgical approaches, and analyze factors involved in approach selection. They discuss their philosophy of approach selection based on the location and extent of the tumor on preoperative imaging as well as the advantages and limitations of each surgical corridor, and they describe the operative nuances of each technique, using a personalized, tailored approach to the individual patient with illustrative cases and videos.

Optic nerve mobilization to enhance the exposure of the pituitary stalk during craniopharyngioma resection


J Neurosurg 125:683–688, 2016

Preservation of the pituitary stalk and its vasculature is a key step in good postoperative endocrinological outcome in patients with craniopharyngiomas. In this article, the authors describe the surgical technique of medial optic nerve mobilization for better inspection and preservation of the pituitary stalk.

Methods This operative technique has been applied in 3 patients. Following tumor exposure via a frontolateral approach, the pituitary stalk could be seen partially hidden under the optic nerve and the optic chiasm. The subchiasmatic and opticocarotid spaces were narrow, and tumor dissection from the pituitary stalk under direct vision was not possible. The optic canal was therefore unroofed, the falciform ligament was incised, and the lateral part of the tuberculum sellae was drilled medial to the optic nerve. The optic nerve could be mobilized medially to widen the opticocarotid triangle, which enhanced visualization of and access to the pituitary stalk.

Results By using the optic nerve mobilization technique, the tumor could be removed completely, and the pituitary stalk and its vasculature were preserved in all patients. In 2 patients, vision improved after surgery, while in 1 patient it remained normal, as it was before surgery. The hormonal status remained normal after surgery in 2 patients. In the patient with preoperative hormonal deficiencies, improvement occurred early after surgery and hormonal levels were normal after 3 months. No approach-related complications occurred.

Conclusions This early experience shows that this technique is safe and could be used as a complementary step during microsurgery of craniopharyngiomas. It allows for tumor dissection from the pituitary stalk under direct vision. The pituitary stalk can thus be preserved without jeopardizing the optic nerve.

Comparative analysis of outcomes following craniotomy and expanded endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal resection of craniopharyngioma and related tumors

Endoscopic endonasal surgery for craniopharyngiomas

J Neurosurg 124:627–638, 2016

Craniopharyngiomas and similar midline suprasellar tumors have traditionally been resected via transcranial approaches. More recently, expanded endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal approaches have gained interest. Surgeons have advocated for both approaches, and at present there is no consensus whether one approach is superior to the other. The authors therefore compared surgical outcomes between craniotomy and endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal surgery (EETS) for suprasellar tumors treated at their institution.

Methods: A retrospective review of patients undergoing resection of suprasellar lesions at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center between 2000 and 2013 was performed. Patients harboring suspected craniopharyngioma were selected for extensive review. Other pathologies or predominantly intrasellar masses were excluded. Cases were separated into 2 groups, based on the surgical approach taken. One group underwent EETS and the other cohort underwent craniotomy. Patient demographic data, presenting symptoms, and previous therapies were tabulated. Preoperative and postoperative tumor volume was calculated for each case based on MRI. Student t-test and the chi-square test were used to evaluate differences in patient demographics, tumor characteristics, and outcomes between the 2 cohorts. To assess for selection bias, 3 neurosurgeons who did not perform the surgeries reviewed the preoperative imaging studies and clinical data for each patient in blinded fashion and indicated his/her preferred approach. These data were subject to concordance analysis using Cohen’s kappa test to determine if factors other than surgeon preference influenced the choice of surgical approach.

Results: Complete data were available for 53 surgeries; 19 cases were treated via EETS, and 34 were treated via craniotomy. Patient demographic data, preoperative symptoms, and tumor characteristics were similar between the 2 cohorts, except that fewer operations for recurrent tumor were observed in the craniotomy cohort compared with EETS (17.6% vs 42.1%, p = 0.05). The extent of resection was similar between the 2 groups (85.6% EETS vs 90.7% craniotomy, p = 0.77). An increased rate of cranial nerve injury was noted in the craniotomy group (0% EETS vs 23.5% craniotomy, p = 0.04). Postoperative CSF leak rate was higher in the EETS group (26.3% EETS vs 0% craniotomy, p = 0.004). The progression-free survival curves (log-rank p = 0.99) and recurrence rates (21.1% EETS vs 23.5% craniotomy, p = 1.00) were similar between the 2 groups. Concordance analysis of cases reviewed by 3 neurosurgeons indicated that individual surgeon preference was the only factor that determined surgical approach (kappa coefficient -0.039, p = 0.762)

Conclusions: Surgical outcomes were similar for tumors resected via craniotomy or EETS, except that more CSF leaks occurred in the EETS cohort, whereas more neurological injuries occurred in the craniotomy cohort. Surgical approach appears to mostly reflect surgeon preference rather than specific tumor characteristics. These data support the view that EETS is a viable alternative to craniotomy, providing a similar extent of resection with less neurological injury.

Endoscopic endonasal treatment of 103 craniopharyngiomas

Endoscopic endonasal treatment of 103 craniopharyngiomas

J Neurosurg 121:100–113, 2014

Despite their benign histological appearance, craniopharyngiomas can be considered a challenge for the neurosurgeon and a possible source of poor prognosis for the patient. With the widespread use of the endoscope in endonasal surgery, this route has been proposed over the past decade as an alternative technique for the removal of craniopharyngiomas.

Methods. The authors retrospectively analyzed data from a series of 103 patients who underwent the endoscopic endonasal approach at two institutions (Division of Neurosurgery of the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Naples, Italy, and Division of Neurosurgery of the Bellaria Hospital, Bologna, Italy), between January 1997 and December 2012, for the removal of infra- and/or supradiaphragmatic craniopharyngiomas. Twenty-nine patients (28.2%) had previously been surgically treated.

Results. The authors achieved overall gross-total removal in 68.9% of the cases: 78.9% in purely infradiaphragmatic lesions and 66.3% in lesions involving the supradiaphragmatic space. Among lesions previously treated surgically, the gross-total removal rate was 62.1%. The overall improvement rate in visual disturbances was 74.7%, whereas worsening occurred in 2.5%. No new postoperative defect was noted. Worsening of the anterior pituitary function was reported in 46.2% of patients overall, and there were 38 new cases (48.1% of 79) of postoperative diabetes insipidus. The most common complication was postoperative CSF leakage; the overall rate was 14.6%, and it diminished to 4% in the last 25 procedures, thanks to improvement in reconstruction techniques. The mortality rate was 1.9%, with a mean follow-up duration of 48 months (range 3–246 months).

Conclusions. The endoscopic endonasal approach has become a valid surgical technique for the management of craniopharyngiomas. It provides an excellent corridor to infra- and supradiaphragmatic midline craniopharyngiomas, including the management of lesions extending into the third ventricle chamber. Even though indications for this approach are rigorously lesion based, the data in this study confirm its effectiveness in a large patient series.

Endoscopic endonasal surgery for craniopharyngiomas: surgical outcome in 64 patients

Endoscopic endonasal surgery for craniopharyngiomas

J Neurosurg 119:1194–1207, 2013

The proximity of craniopharyngiomas to vital neurovascular structures and their high recurrence rates make them one of the most challenging and controversial management dilemmas in neurosurgery. Endoscopic endonasal surgery (EES) has recently been introduced as a treatment option for both pediatric and adult craniopharyngiomas. The object of the present study was to present the results of EES and analyze outcome in both the pediatric and the adult age groups.

Methods. The authors retrospectively reviewed the records of patients with craniopharyngioma who had undergone EES in the period from June 1999 to April 2011.

Results. Sixty-four patients, 47 adults and 17 children, were eligible for this study. Forty-seven patients had presented with primary craniopharyngiomas and 17 with recurrent tumors. The mean age in the adult group was 51 years (range 28–82 years); in the pediatric group, 9 years (range 4–18 years). Overall, the gross-total resection rate was 37.5% (24 patients); near-total resection (> 95% of tumor removed) was 34.4% (22 patients); subtotal resection (≥ 80% of tumor removed) 21.9% (14 patients); and partial resection (< 80% of tumor removed) 6.2% (4 patients). In 9 patients, EES had been combined with radiation therapy (with radiosurgery in 6 cases) as the initial treatment. Among the 40 patients (62.5%) who had presented with pituitary insufficiency, pituitary function remained unchanged in 19 (47.5%), improved or normalized in 8 (20%), and worsened in 13 (32.5%). In the 24 patients who had presented with normal pituitary function, new pituitary deficit occurred in 14 (58.3%). Nineteen patients (29.7%) suffered from diabetes insipidus at presentation, and the condition developed in 21 patients (46.7%) after treatment. Forty-four patients (68.8%) had presented with impaired vision. In 38 (86.4%) of them, vision improved or even normalized after surgery; in 5, it remained unchanged; and in 1, it temporarily worsened. One patient without preoperative visual problems showed temporary visual deterioration after treatment. Permanent visual deterioration occurred in no one after surgery. The mean follow-up was 38 months (range 1–135 months). Tumor recurrence after EES was discovered in 22 patients (34.4%) and was treated with repeat surgery (6 patients), radiosurgery (1 patient), combined repeat surgery and radiation therapy (8 patients), interferon (1 patient), or observation (6 patients). Surgical complications included 15 cases (23.4%) with CSF leakage that was treated with surgical reexploration (13 patients) and/or lumbar drain placement (9 patients). This leak rate was decreased to 10.6% in recent years after the introduction of the vascularized nasoseptal flap. Five cases (7.8%) of meningitis were found and treated with antibiotics without further complications. Postoperative hydrocephalus occurred in 7 patients (12.7%) and was treated with ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement. Five patients experienced transient cranial nerve palsies. There was no operative mortality.

Conclusions. With the goal of gross-total or maximum possible safe resection, EES can be used for the treatment of every craniopharyngioma, regardless of its location, size, and extension (excluding purely intraventricular tumors), and can provide acceptable results comparable to those for traditional craniotomies. Endoscopic endonasal surgery is not limited to adults and actually shows higher resection rates in the pediatric population.

Displacement of mammillary bodies by craniopharyngiomas involving the third ventricle

Displacement of mammillary bodies by craniopharyngiomas involving the third ventricle- surgical-MRI correlation and use in topographical diagnosis

J Neurosurg 119:381–405, 2013

Accurate diagnosis of the topographical relationships of craniopharyngiomas (CPs) involving the third ventricle and/or hypothalamus remains a challenging issue that critically influences the prediction of risks associated with their radical surgical removal. This study evaluates the diagnostic accuracy of MRI to define the precise topographical relationships between intraventricular CPs, the third ventricle, and the hypothalamus.

Methods. An extensive retrospective review of well-described CPs reported in the MRI era between 1990 and 2009 yielded 875 lesions largely or wholly involving the third ventricle. Craniopharyngiomas with midsagittal and coronal preoperative and postoperative MRI studies, in addition to detailed descriptions of clinical and surgical findings, were selected from this database (n = 130). The position of the CP and the morphological distortions caused by the tumor on the sella turcica, suprasellar cistern, optic chiasm, pituitary stalk, and third ventricle floor, including the infundibulum, tuber cinereum, and mammillary bodies (MBs), were analyzed on both preoperative and postoperative MRI studies. These changes were correlated with the definitive CP topography and type of third ventricle involvement by the lesion, as confirmed surgically.

Results. The mammillary body angle (MBA) is the angle formed by the intersection of a plane tangential to the base of the MBs and a plane parallel to the floor of the fourth ventricle in midsagittal MRI studies. Measurement of the MBA represented a reliable neuroradiological sign that could be used to discriminate the type of intraventricular involvement by the CP in 83% of cases in this series (n = 109). An acute MBA (< 60°) was indicative of a primary tuberal-intraventricular topography, whereas an obtuse MBA (> 90°) denoted a primary suprasellar CP position, causing either an invagination of the third ventricle (pseudointraventricular lesion) or its invasion (secondarily intraventricular lesion; p < 0.01). A multivariate model including a combination of 5 variables (the MBA, position of the hypothalamus, presence of hydrocephalus, psychiatric symptoms, and patient age) allowed an accurate definition of the CP topography preoperatively in 74%–90% of lesions, depending on the specific type of relationship between the tumor and third ventricle.

Conclusions. The type of mammillary body displacement caused by CPs represents a valuable clue for ascertaining the topographical relationships between these lesions and the third ventricle on preoperative MRI studies. The MBA provides a useful sign to preoperatively differentiate a primary intraventricular CP originating at the infundibulotuberal area from a primary suprasellar CP, which either invaginated or secondarily invaded the third ventricle.

Visual Outcomes After Surgical Treatment of Adult Craniopharyngiomas

Neurosurgery 71:715–721, 2012 DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e318262146b

Craniopharyngiomas (CRPs) often cause visual deterioration (VD) due to the close vicinity of the optic apparatus.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate longitudinal visual outcomes after surgery of CRP and determine the prognostic factors thereof.

METHODS: One hundred forty-six adult patients who underwent surgery for newly diagnosed CRP were retrospectively reviewed. There were 87 male patients (60%), and the median age was 41 years (range, 18-75). The mean follow-up duration was 88.7 months (range, 24-307). A visual impairment score was used to assess the short-term (,1 month) and long-term (.2 years) visual outcomes.

RESULTS: Gross total removal was performed in 53 patients (36%), and tumor recurrence occurred in 40 patients (27%). The average preoperative, short- and longterm visual impairment scores were 44.4, 38.5, and 38.1, respectively, on a 0- to 100-point scale (with 100 indicating the worst vision). Short- and long-term VD occurred in 28 (19%) and 39 patients (27%), respectively. Subtotal removal (STR) alone (P = .010; OR = 4.8), short-termVD (P<.001; OR = 39.7), and tumor recurrence (P<.001; OR = 28.2) were significant risk factors for long-term VD in the multivariate analysis. Patients undergoing STR alone had higher tumor recurrence rates in comparison with those who underwent gross total removal or STR with adjuvant therapy (P < .001).

CONCLUSION: Short-term VD secondary to the surgical insult and the recurrence of the tumor were strong predictors of long-term visual outcomes after surgical treatment for CRP. STR alone may be an ineffective strategy for achieving tumor control and optimal visual outcomes in patients with CRP.

Results after treatment of craniopharyngiomas: further experiences with 73 patients since 1997

J Neurosurg 116:373–384, 2012. DOI: 10.3171/2011.6.JNS081451

The authors report surgical and endocrinological results of a series of 73 cases of craniopharyngioma that they treated surgically since 1997 to demonstrate their change in treatment strategy and its effect on outcome compared with a previous series and results reported in the literature.

Methods. A total of 73 patients underwent surgery for craniopharyngiomas between May 1997 and January 2005. In patients with poor clinical or neuropsychological condition, even following pretreatment, only stereotactic cyst aspiration took place (8 cases). In the remaining patients, gross-total resection (GTR) was intended and appeared to be possible. The most frequent approaches were subfrontal (27 cases) and transsphenoidal (26 cases); in some cases, a multistep approach was used. The rate of GTR, complications, and functional outcome (comparing pre- and postoperative endocrine and neuropsychological testing) were evaluated. The mean duration of follow-up was 25.2 months.

Results. Gross-total resection was achieved in 88.5% of cases in which a transsphenoidal approach was used and 79.5% of those in which a transcranial approach was used (85.2% of those in which a subfrontal approach was used and 72.7% of those in which a frontolateral approach was used). In the total series, GTR was achieved in 83.1% of cases (vs 49.3% in the authors’ former series). The complication rate was 13.8% without any mortality. New endocrine deficits were observed more frequently in patients treated with transcranial approaches over the years (16.3%– 66.7% vs 2.6%–50.0%) but were less frequent after transsphenoidal approaches (5.2%–19.2% vs 2.9%–45.7%).

Conclusions. Open surgery with intended total resection remains the treatment of choice in most patients. Initial stereotactic cyst aspiration or medical pretreatment to improve the patients’ condition and adequate choice of surgical approach(es) are essential to achieve that goal. Nevertheless, a moderate increase in endocrinological deficits has to be accepted. The authors recommend using radiotherapy only in cases in which there are tumor remnants or disease progression after surgery.

Endoscopic, Endonasal Resection of Craniopharyngiomas: Analysis of Outcome Including Extent of Resection, Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak, Return to Preoperative Productivity, and Body Mass Index

Neurosurgery 70:110–124, 2012 DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e31822e8ffc

The endoscopic, endonasal, extended transsphenoidal approach is a minimal-access technique for managing craniopharyngiomas. Outcome measures such as return to employment and body mass index (BMI) have not been reported and are necessary for comparison with open transcranial approaches. Most prior reports of the endoscopic, endonasal approach have reported unacceptably high cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak rates.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the outcome of endoscopic, endonasal surgery in a consecutive series of craniopharyngiomas with special attention to extent of resection, CSF leak, return to employment, and BMI.

METHODS: Twenty-six surgeries were performed on 24 patients at Weill Cornell Medical College-New York Presbyterian Hospital. Five patients had recurrent lesions. Gross-total resection (GTR) was attempted in 21 surgeries. Indications for intended subtotal resection were advanced age, medical comorbidities, preservation of pituitary function, and hypothalamic invasion.

RESULTS: Mean tumor diameter was 2.9 cm. GTR (18 surgeries) or near-total (.95%) resection (2 surgeries) was achieved in 95% when GTR was the goal. Seven patients received postoperative radiation therapy. Mean follow-up was 35 months with no recurrences in GTR cases and stable disease in all patients at last follow-up. Vision improved in 77%. Diabetes insipidus and panhypopituitarism developed in 42% and 38%, respectively. A more than 9% increase in BMI occurred in 39%; 69% returned to their preoperative profession/schooling. The postoperative CSF leak rate was 3.8%.

CONCLUSION: Minimal-access, endoscopic, endonasal surgery for craniopharyngioma can achieve high rates of GTR with low rates of CSF leak. Return to employment and obesity rates are comparable to microscope-assisted transcranial and transsphenoidal reports.

Infundibulo-tuberal or not strictly intraventricular craniopharyngioma: evidence for a major topographical category

Acta Neurochir (2011) 153:2403–2426. DOI 10.1007/s00701-011-1149-4

This study investigates retrospectively the clinical, neuroradiological, pathological and surgical evidence verifying the infundibulo-tuberal topography for craniopharyngiomas (CPs). Infundibulo-tuberal CPs represent a surgical challenge due to their close anatomical relationships with the hypothalamus. An accurate definition of this topographical category is essential in order to prevent any undue injury to vital diencephalic centres.

Methods A systematic review of all scientific reports involving pathological, neuroradiological or surgical descriptions of either well-described individual cases or large series of CPs published in official journals and text books from 1892 to 2011 was carried out. A total of 1,232 documents providing pathological, surgical and/or neuroradiological evidence for the infundibulo-tuberal or hypothalamic location of CPs were finally analysed in this study.

Findings For a total of 3,571 CPs included in 67 pathological, surgical or neuroradiological series, 1,494 CPs (42%) were classified as infundibulo-tuberal lesions. This topography was proved in the autopsy of 122 nonoperated cases. The crucial morphological finding characterizing the tubero-infundibular topography was the replacement of the third ventricle floor by a lesion with a predominant intraventricular growth. This type of CP usually presents a circumferential band of tight adherence to the third ventricle floor remnants, formed by a functionless layer of rective gliosis of a variable thickness. After complete surgical removal of an infundibulo-tuberal CP, a wide defect or breach at the floor of the third ventricle is regularly observed both in the surgical field and on postoperative magnetic resonance imaging studies.

Conclusions Infundibulo-tuberal CPs represent a major topographical category of lesions with a primary subpial development at the floor of the third ventricle. These lesions expand within the hypothalamus itself and subsequently occupy the third ventricle; consequently, they can be classified as not strictly intraventricular CPs. A tight attachment to the hypothalamus and remnants of the third ventricle floor is the pathological landmark of infundibulotuberal CPs.

Surgical Management of Craniopharyngiomas in Children: Meta-analysis and Comparison of Transcranial and Transsphenoidal Approaches

Neurosurgery 69:630–643, 2011 DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e31821a872d

Controversy persists regarding the optimal treatment of pediatric craniopharyngiomas.

OBJECTIVE: We performed a meta-analysis of reported series of transcranial (TC) and transsphenoidal (TS) surgery for pediatric craniopharyngiomas to determine whether comparisons between the outcomes in TS and TC approaches are valid.

METHODS: Online databases were searched for English-language articles reporting quantifiable outcome data published between 1990 and 2010 pertaining to the surgical treatment of pediatric craniopharyngiomas. Forty-eight studies describing 2955 patients having TC surgery and 13 studies describing 373 patients having TS surgery met inclusion criteria.

RESULTS: Before surgery, patients who had TC surgery had less visual loss, more frequent hydrocephalus and increased intracranial pressure, larger tumors, and more suprasellar disease. After surgery, patients in the TC group had lower rates of gross total resection (GTR), more frequent recurrence after GTR, higher neurological morbidity, more frequent diabetes insipidus, less improvement, and greater deterioration in vision. There was no difference in operative mortality, obesity/hyperphagia, or overall survival percentages.

CONCLUSION: Directly comparing outcomes after TC and TS surgery for pediatric craniopharyngiomas does not appear to be valid. Baseline differences in patients who underwent each approach create selection bias that may explain the improved rates of disease control and lower morbidity of TS resection. Although TS approaches are becoming increasingly used for smaller tumors and those primarily intrasellar, tumors more amenable to TC surgery include large tumors with significant lateral extension, those that engulf vascular structures, and those with significant peripheral calcification.

Rathke cleft cysts: a review of clinical and surgical management

Neurosurg Focus 31 (1):E1, 2011. DOI: 10.3171/2011.5.FOCUS1183

The aim of this paper is to provide a comprehensive review of clinical, imaging, and histopathological features, as well as operative and nonoperative management strategies in patients with Rathke cleft cysts (RCCs).

A literature review was performed to identify previous articles that reported surgical and nonsurgical management of RCCs.

Rathke cleft cysts are often incidental lesions found in the sellar and suprasellar regions and do not require surgical intervention in the majority of cases. In symptomatic RCCs, the typical clinical presentation includes headache, visual loss, and/or endocrine dysfunction. Visual field testing and endocrine laboratory studies may reveal more subtle deficiencies associated with RCCs. When indicated, the transsphenoidal approach typically offers the least invasive and safest method for treating these lesions.

Various surgical strategies including cyst wall resection, intralesional alcohol injection, and sellar floor reconstruction are discussed. Although headache and visual symptoms frequently improve after surgical drainage of RCCs, hypopituitarism and diabetes insipidus are less likely to do so.

A subset of more aggressive, atypical RCCs associated with pronounced clinical symptoms and higher recurrence rates is discussed, as well as the possible relationship of these lesions to craniopharyngiomas.

Rathke cleft cysts are typically benign, asymptomatic lesions that can be monitored. In selected patients, transsphenoidal surgery provides excellent rates of improvement in clinical symptoms and long-term cyst resolution. Complete cyst wall resection, intraoperative alcohol cauterization, and sellar floor reconstruction in the absence of a CSF leak are not routinely recommended.

Neurosurgical treatment of craniopharyngioma in adults and children: early and long-term results in a large case series

J Neurosurg 114:1350–1359, 2011.DOI: 10.3171/2010.11.JNS10670

Craniopharyngioma accounts for 2%–5% of all primary intracranial neoplasms. The optimal management of craniopharyngioma remains controversial. The authors evaluated the early results of surgery and the longterm risk of tumor recurrence in a large series of patients undergoing resection of craniopharyngiomas.

Methods. Between 1990 and 2008, 112 consecutive patients (57 male and 55 female patients with a mean [± SEM] age of 33.3 ± 1.8 years) underwent resection of craniopharyngiomas at the authors’ hospital. Recurrence or growth of residual tumor tissue during follow-up was assessed using MR imaging.

Results. There were 3 perioperative deaths (2.7%). Severe adverse events were more frequent in patients who underwent operations via the transcranial route (37%) than the transsphenoidal approach (5.6%; p < 0.001). Magnetic resonance imaging showed radical resection of the tumor in 78 (71.6%) of the remaining 109 patients. Previous surgery and maximum tumor diameter were associated with persistence of disease after surgery. Craniopharyngioma recurred in 26 (24.5%) of 106 patients. Presence of residual tumor on the first postoperative MR imaging, male sex, and no postoperative radiation therapy were associated with a risk of tumor recurrence. Quality-of-life data were assessed in the 91 patients who attended the authors’ institution for follow-up visits. Among them, 8.8% patients were partially or completely dependent on others for daily living activities before surgery. This percentage increased to 14.3% at the last follow-up visit. The 5- and 10-year overall survival rates were 94.4% (95% CI 90.0%–98.8%) and 90.3% (95% CI 83.4%–97.3%), respectively.

Conclusions. Complete surgical removal of craniopharyngioma can be achieved with reasonable safety in more than 70% of patients. Recurrence of craniopharyngioma may occur even after apparent radical excision. Prompt management of residual or recurring disease by radiotherapy, repeat surgery, or a combination of both is usually successful in controlling further tumor growth.

Endocrinologic, neurologic, and visual morbidity after treatment for craniopharyngioma

J Neurooncol (2011) 101:463–476. DOI 10.1007/s11060-010-0265-y

Craniopharyngiomas are locally aggressive tumors which typically are focused in the sellar and suprasellar region near a number of critical neural and vascular structures mediating endocrinologic, behavioral, and visual functions. The present study aims to summarize and compare the published literature regarding morbidity resulting from treatment of craniopharyngioma.

We performed a comprehensive search of the published English language literature to identify studies publishing outcome data of patients undergoing surgery for craniopharyngioma. Comparisons of the rates of endocrine, vascular, neurological, and visual complications were performed using Pearson’s chi-squared test, and covariates of interest were fitted into a multivariate logistic regression model.

In our data set, 540 patients underwent surgical resection of their tumor. 138 patients received biopsy alone followed by some form of radiotherapy. Mean overall follow-up for all patients in these studies was 54 ± 1.8 months. The overall rate of new endocrinopathy for all patients undergoing surgical resection of their mass was 37% (95% CI = 33– 41). Patients receiving GTR had over 2.5 times the rate of developing at least one endocrinopathy compared to patients receiving STR alone or STR + XRT (52 vs. 19 vs. 20%, v2 P<0.00001). On multivariate analysis, GTR conferred a significant increase in the risk of endocrinopathy compared to STR + XRT (OR = 3.45, 95% CI = 2.05–5.81, P<0.00001), after controlling for study size and the presence of significant hypothalamic involvement. There was a statistical trend towards worse visual outcomes in patients receiving XRT after STR compared to GTR or STR alone (GTR = 3.5% vs. STR 2.1% vs. STR + XRT 6.4%, P = 0.11). Given the difficulty in obtaining class 1 data regarding the treatment of this tumor, this study can serve as an estimate of expected outcomes for these patients, and guide decision making until these data are available.

Magnetic resonance imaging–graded hypothalamic compression in surgically treated adult craniopharyngiomas determining postoperative obesity

Neurosurg Focus 28 (4):E3, 2010. DOI: 10.3171/2010.1.FOCUS09303

Obesity as a consequence of management of pediatric craniopharyngioma is a well-described phenomenon related to the degree of hypothalamic involvement. However, weight change and obesity have not been analyzed in adult patients. Therefore, the purpose of this study was 1) to evaluate the pattern of postoperative weight gain related to preoperative body mass index (BMI), 2) determine if postoperative weight gain is an issue in adult patients, and 3) develop an objective MR imaging grading system to predict risk of postoperative weight gain and obesity in adults treated for craniopharyngioma.

Methods. The authors retrospectively screened 296 patients with known craniopharyngioma for the following inclusion criteria: pathologically confirmed craniopharyngioma, index surgery at the authors’ institution, and operative weight and height recorded with at least 3 months of follow-up including body weight measurement. Patients aged 18 years or younger were excluded, yielding 28 cases for analysis. Cases of craniopharyngiomas were compared with age- and sex-matched controls (pituitary adenoma patients) to evaluate the pattern and significance of perioperative weight changes.

Results. Mean age was 46 ± 17 years at surgery, and 64% of the patients were male. Complete resection was achieved in 71% of cases. There was no correlation of preoperative BMI and postoperative weight gain testing in a linear model. Sixty-one percent and 46% of patients had postoperative weight gains greater than 4 and 9%, respectively. Comparing craniopharyngioma patients (cases) to age- and sex-matched controls, the preoperative BMIs were similar (p = 0.93) between cases (mean 28.9 [95% CI 30.9–26.9]) and controls (mean 29.3 [95% CI 31.9–26.7]). However, there was a trend to a greater mean postoperative weight change (percentage) in cases (10.1%) than in controls (5.6%) (p = 0.24). Hypothalamic T2 signal change and irregular contrast enhancement correlated and predicted higher-grade hypothalamic involvement. Furthermore, they can be used to objectively grade hypothalamic involvement as the authors propose. Progressive hypothalamic involvement correlated with larger postoperative weight gains (p = 0.022); however, hypothalamic involvement did not correlate with preoperative BMI (p = 0.5).

Conclusions. Postoperative weight gain in adult patients undergoing surgery for craniopharyngioma is a significant problem and correlates with hypothalamic involvement, as it does in pediatric patients. Finally, objective MR imaging criteria can be used to predict risk of postoperative weight gain and aid in grading of hypothalamic involvement.

Craniopharyngiomas: intratumoral chemotherapy with interferon-α: a multicenter preliminary study with 60 cases

Neurosurg Focus 28 (4):E12, 2010. (DOI: 10.3171/2010.1.FOCUS09310)

The authors assessed the efficacy of intratumoral interferon-α (IFNα)–based chemotherapy in pediatric patients with cystic craniopharyngiomas.

Methods. In a prospective multicenter study of 60 pediatric patients, the authors assessed the efficacy of intratumoral INFα2A-based chemotherapy. The study was conducted between 2000 and 2009 at 3 locations: the Medical School of the Federal University of São Paulo, Catholic University of Rome, and the Neurosurgery Institute of Santiago, Chile. The assessment included clinical and radiological control examinations, side effects observed, and total dose used.

Results. Sixty cases of cystic craniopharyngioma were analyzed. The cohort consisted of 35 male and 25 female children (mean age 11 years). Clinical and radiological improvement was achieved in 76% of the cases. New endocrinological deficits were observed in 13% of the cases. In approximately 30% of the patients, the evolution included some light side effects, the most common being headache (33%) and eyelid edema (28%). The number of cycles varied from 1 to 9 (mean 5 cycles), and the total dose applied per cycle was 36,000,000 IU.

Conclusions. This has been the largest documented series of intratumoral chemotherapy using INFα for the control of cystic craniopharyngiomas. The treatment has proved efficacious; there was no mortality, and morbidity rates were low.

Tolerance of the Optic Apparatus in Single-Fraction Irradiation Using Stereotactic Radiosurgery: Evaluation in 100 Patients With Craniopharyngioma

Neurosurgery 66:688-695, 2010. DOI: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000367554.96981.26

OBJECTIVE: To determine the limiting dose to the optic apparatus in single-fraction irradiation in patients with craniopharyngioma treated with gamma knife radiosurgery (GKRS).

METHODS: One hundred patients with 109 craniopharyngiomas treated with GKRS were evaluated with a median follow-up period of 68 months. Tumor volume varied from 0.1 to 36.0 (median, 3.3) cm3. Marginal doses varied from 10 to 18 (median, 11.4) Gy. Maximum dose to any part of the optic apparatus varied from 2 to 18 (median, 10) Gy.

RESULTS: The actuarial 5- and 10-year overall rates of survival of tumor progression after GKRS were 93% and 88%, respectively. Similarly, the actuarial 5- and 10-year progressionfree survival rates were 62% and 52%, respectively. Among 94 patients in whom visual function was evaluable after GKRS, only 3 patients developed radiation-induced optic neuropathy, indicating an overall Kaplan-Meier radiation-induced optic neuropathy rate of 5%. Of these patients, 2 received 15 Gy or greater to the optic apparatus. Another patient who received 8 Gy or less had undergone previous fractionated radiation therapy with a biologically effective dose of 60 Gy.

CONCLUSION: The optic apparatus seems to be more tolerant of irradiation than previously thought. Careful dose planning is essential, particularly in patients who underwent prior external beam radiation therapy.

The role of radiosurgery in the treatment of craniopharyngiomas

Neurosurg Focus 28 (4):E11, 2010. (DOI: 10.3171/2010.2.FOCUS09311)

The treatment of craniopharyngiomas is composed of an intricate balance of multiple modalities. Resection and radiotherapy have been combined to synergistically control tumor growth while preventing undue harm to crucial neurovascular structures. Although a craniopharyngioma is a benign lesion pathologically, it may induce severe neurological injury due to its location and rate of growth. More recently, the advent of targeted, fractionated radiotherapy has allowed for more aggressive tumor control while reducing the necessity for large resections. Initial studies have demonstrated significant tumor control in patients who are treated with resection combined with radiation therapy, versus surgery alone, with a lower rate of treatment-associated neurological deficits. In this review, a detailed account of the current studies evaluating the role of stereotactic radiosurgery in the management of craniopharyngiomas is presented. The authors also provide a short account of their experience to aid in defining the role of CyberKnife radiosurgery.

Neurosurgery Department. “La Fe” University Hospital. Valencia, Spain


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