Clinical features and surgical outcomes of patients with skull base chordoma

J Neurosurg 127:1257–1267, 2017

Skull base chordoma is relatively rare, and a limited number of reports have been published regarding its clinical features. Moreover, the factors associated with extent of resection, as well as the value of marginal resection for long-term survival, are still in question for this disease. The objective of this study was to investigate these factors by evaluating their clinical features and surgical outcomes.

METHODS A retrospective analysis of 238 patients with skull base chordomas, who met the inclusion criteria, was performed. This study summarized the clinical features, selection of approaches, degree of resection, and postoperative complications by statistical description analyses; proposed modified classifications of tumor location and bone invasion; studied the contributions of the clinical and radiological factors to the extent of resection by Pearson c2, ANOVA, rank test, and binary logistic regression analysis; and estimated the differences in overall survival and progression-free survival rates with respect to therapeutic history, classification of tumor location, extent of bone invasion, and extent of tumor resection by the Kaplan-Meier method. A p value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

RESULTS The study included 140 male and 98 female patients with a mean age of 38.1 years. Headache and neck pain (33.2%) and diplopia (29%) were the most common initial symptoms. Sphenoclival type accounted for the largest proportion of tumor location (59.2%); endophytic chordoma was the more common type of bone invasion (81.5%). Lateral open approaches were performed in two-thirds of the study population (78.6%). The rate of marginal resection was 66%, composed of gross-total resection (11.8%) and near-total resection (54.2%). Meningitis (8%) and CSF leakage (3.8%) were the most frequent complications. The mean follow-up period was 43.7 months. The overall survival and progression-free survival rates at 5 years were 76% and 45%, respectively. Recurrent tumor and larger tumor volume (≥ 40 cm3) were identified as risk factors of marginal resection. Patients who presented with recurrent tumor and underwent intralesional resection had a worse long-term outcome.

CONCLUSIONS The classifications of both tumor location and bone invasion demonstrated clinical value. Marginal resection was more likely to be achieved for primary lesions with smaller volumes (< 40 cm3). The rate of CSF leakage declined due to improved dura mater repair with free fat grafts. Marginal resection, or gross-total resection when possible, should be performed in patients with primary chordomas to achieve better long-term survival.

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