Surgical treatment of pontine cavernous malformations via subtemporal transtentorial and intradural anterior transpetrosal approaches

Neurosurgical Review (2020) 43:1179–1189

The aim of this study was to report our surgical experience on resection of the pontine cavernous malformations (CMs) via subtemporal transtentorial approach (STTA) and intradural anterior transpetrosal approach (ATPA).

Clinical data were retrospectively reviewed in 61 patients with pontine CMs that were surgically treated by the STTA and the intradural ATPA. The surgical procedures, complications, and outcomes were analyzed.

The study consists of 61 patients with a total of 61 pontine CMs. Other than 4 lesions located medially in the pons, all CMs were in the lateral pons with a left or right lateral epicenter (the left/right ratio was 22/35). Totally, 11 patients (18.0%) with lesions located in the upper pons were treated by the STTA, and 50 patients (82.0%) with lesions involving the lower pons were treated by the intradural ATPA. Postoperatively, the complete resection was achieved in 58 patients (95.1%) and incomplete resection in 3 patients (4.9%). Twenty-seven patients (44.3%) suffered from a new or worsened neurological deficit in the immediate postoperative period, and 8 patients (13.1%) encountered a non-neural complication, including rebleeding, cerebrospinal fluid leak, intracranial infection, and pulmonary infection, and 3 patients had contusion of temporal lobe. With a mean follow-up of 54.2 months, the patients’ neurological condition had improved in 43 cases (71.6%), not changed in 10 cases (16.7%), and worsened in 7 cases (11.7%), respectively. The Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) score evaluated at the last time for per patient was significantly better than their baseline status (t = 6.677, p < 0.001). However, 21 patients (35.0%) suffered from a new or worsened persistent postoperative deficit.

The lateral and anterolateral pons can be exposed well by the subtemporal transtentorial and intradural anterior transpetrosal approaches. Lesions of CMs located in the lateral pons, including ventrolateral and dorsolateral pons, could be totally removed by these two lateral approaches with an acceptable surgical morbidity.