The surgical treatment of tumors of the fourth ventricle

J Neurosurg 128:339–351, 2018

Fourth ventricle tumors are rare, and surgical series are typically small, comprising a single pathology, or focused exclusively on pediatric populations. This study investigated surgical outcome and complications following fourth ventricle tumor resection in a diverse patient population. This is the largest cohort of fourth ventricle tumors described in the literature to date.

METHODS This is an 18-year (1993–2010) retrospective review of 55 cases involving patients undergoing surgery for tumors of the fourth ventricle. Data included patient demographic characteristics, pathological and radiographic tumor characteristics, and surgical factors (approach, surgical adjuncts, extent of resection, etc.). The neurological and medical complications following resection were collected and outcomes at 30 days, 90 days, 6 months, and 1 year were reviewed to determine patient recovery. Patient, tumor, and surgical factors were analyzed to determine factors associated with the frequently encountered postoperative neurological complications.

RESULTS There were no postoperative deaths. Gross-total resection was achieved in 75% of cases. Forty-five percent of patients experienced at least 1 major neurological complication, while 31% had minor complications only. New or worsening gait/focal motor disturbance (56%), speech/swallowing deficits (38%), and cranial nerve deficits (31%) were the most common neurological deficits in the immediate postoperative period. Of these, cranial nerve deficits were the least likely to resolve at follow-up. Multivariate analysis showed that patients undergoing a transvermian approach had a higher incidence of postoperative cranial nerve deficits, gait disturbance, and speech/swallowing deficits than those treated with a telovelar approach. The use of surgical adjuncts (intraoperative navigation, neurophysiological monitoring) did not significantly affect neurological outcome. Twenty-two percent of patients required postoperative CSF diversion following tumor resection. Patients who required intraoperative ventriculostomy, those undergoing a transvermian approach, and pediatric patients (< 18 years old) were all more likely to require postoperative CSF diversion. Twenty percent of patients suffered at least 1 medical complication following tumor resection. Most complications were respiratory, with the most common being postoperative respiratory failure (14%), followed by pneumonia (13%).

CONCLUSIONS The occurrence of complications after fourth ventricle tumor surgery is not rare. Postoperative neurological sequelae were frequent, but a substantial number of patients had neurological improvement at long-term followup. Of the neurological complications analyzed, postoperative cranial nerve deficits were the least likely to completely resolve at follow-up. Of all the patient, tumor, and surgical variables included in the analysis, surgical approach had the most significant impact on neurological morbidity, with the telovelar approach being associated with less morbidity.