Endoscopic transorbital surgery for Meckel’s cave and middle cranial fossa tumors

J Neurosurg 131:1126–1135, 2019

Tumors involving Meckel’s cave remain extremely challenging because of the surrounding complex neurovascular structures and deep-seated location. The authors investigated a new minimal-access technique using the endoscopic transorbital approach (eTOA) through the superior eyelid crease to Meckel’s cave and middle cranial fossa lesions and reviewed the most useful surgical procedures and pitfalls of this approach.

METHODS Between September 2016 and January 2018, the authors performed eTOA in 9 patients with tumors involving Meckel’s cave and the middle cranial fossa. The lesions included trigeminal schwannoma in 4 patients, meningioma in 2 patients, metastatic brain tumor in 1 patient, chondrosarcoma in 1 patient, and dermoid cyst in 1 patient. In 7 of the 9 patients, eTOA alone was performed, while the other 2 patients underwent a combined eTOA and endoscopic endonasal approach or retrosigmoid craniotomy. Data including details of surgical techniques and clinical outcomes were recorded.

RESULTS Gross-total resection was performed in 7 of the 9 patients (77.8%). Four patients underwent extended eTOA (with lateral orbital rim osteotomy). Drilling of the trapezoid sphenoid floor, a middle fossa “peeling” technique, and full visualization of Meckel’s cave were applied to approach the lesions. Tumors were exposed and removed extradurally in 3 patients and intradurally in 6 patients. There was no postoperative CSF leak.

CONCLUSIONS The eTOA affords a direct route to access Meckel’s cave and middle cranial fossa lesions. With experience, this novel approach can be successfully applied to selected skull base lesions. To achieve successful removal of the tumor, emphasis should be placed on the importance of adequately removing the greater sphenoid wing and vertical crest. However, because of limited working space eTOA may not be an ideal approach for posterior fossa lesions.