Microsurgical management of midbrain gliomas: surgical results and long-term outcome in a large, single-surgeon, consecutive series

J Neurosurg 140:104–115, 2024

The authors report on a large, consecutive, single-surgeon series of patients undergoing microsurgical removal of midbrain gliomas. Emphasis is put on surgical indications, technique, and results as well as long-term oncological follow-up.

METHODS A retrospective analysis was performed of prospectively collected data from a consecutive series of patients undergoing microneurosurgery for midbrain gliomas from March 2006 through June 2022 at the authors’ institution. According to the growth pattern and location of the lesion in the midbrain (tegmentum, central mesencephalic structures, and tectum), one of the following approaches was chosen: transsylvian (TS), extreme anterior interhemispheric transcallosal (eAIT), posterior interhemispheric transtentorial subsplenial (PITS), paramedian supracerebellar transtentorial (PST), perimedian supracerebellar (PeS), perimedian contralateral supracerebellar (PeCS), and transuvulotonsillar fissure (TUTF). Clinical and radiological data were gathered according to a standard protocol and reported according to common descriptive statistics. The main outcomes were rate of gross-total resection; extent of resection; occurrence of any complications; variation in Karnofsky Performance Status score at discharge, 3 months, and last follow-up; progression-free survival (PFS); and overall survival (OS).

RESULTS Fifty-four patients (28 of them pediatric) met the inclusion criteria (6 with high-grade and 48 with low-grade gliomas [LGGs]). Twenty-two tumors were in the tegmentum, 7 in the central mesencephalic structures, and 25 in the tectum. In no instance did the glioma originate in the cerebral peduncle. TS was performed in 2 patients, eAIT in 6, PITS in 23, PST in 16, PeS in 4, PeCS in 1, and TUTF in 2 patients. Gross-total resection was achieved in 39 patients (72%). The average extent of resection was 98.0% (median 100%, range 82%–100%). There were no deaths due to surgery. Nine patients experienced transient and 2 patients experienced permanent new neurological deficits. At a mean follow-up of 72 months (median 62, range 3–193 months), 49 of the 54 patients were still alive. All patients with LGGs (48/54) were alive with no decrease in their KPS score, whereas 42 showed improvement compared with their preoperative status.

CONCLUSIONS Microneurosurgical removal of midbrain gliomas is feasible with good surgical results and long-term clinical outcomes, particularly in patients with LGGs. As such, microneurosurgery should be considered as the first therapeutic option. Adequate microsurgical technique and anesthesiological management, along with an accurate preoperative understanding of the tumor’s exact topographic origin and growth pattern, is crucial for a good surgical outcome.