Bilateral subfrontal approach for tuberculum sellae meningiomas in long-term postoperative visual outcome

J Neurosurg 115:802–810, 2011.DOI: 10.3171/2011.5.JNS101812

Various surgical approaches, such as uni- and bifrontal, frontolateral, and pterional approaches, havebeen advocated for tuberculum sellae meningiomas. The authors retrospectively reviewed the effectiveness of a bilateralsubfrontal approach for tuberculum sellae meningiomas with special attention to ophthalmological outcomesand complications.

Methods. Between 1993 and 2009, 34 patients underwent surgery for removal of tuberculum sellae meningiomasat Osaka City University. Tumor size ranged from 14 to 45 mm. Thirty-two of 34 patients presented with visualdisturbances before the surgery. The visual functions in all patients were assessed using a visual impairment score(VIS) before and after surgery. Postoperative visual examination was performed 2 weeks after surgery. Long-termfollow-up examinations were conducted 1 year after surgery.

Results. Radical resection (Simpson Grades I and II) was accomplished in 27 patients, and subtotal or partialresection (Simpson Grades III and IV) was achieved in 7. There was no deterioration in postoperative visual outcome.Twenty-nine (90.6%) of 32 patients showed improved VIS compared with preoperative VIS. The average VIS was38.1 preoperatively, 23.5 in the short-term postoperative period, and 21.8 in the long-term postoperative period. Inthe short-term postoperative period, the visual function in 6 patients normalized, and visual problems persisted in theremaining 26. Six (23%) of 26 patients showed further improvement in VIS during the long-term follow-up period,and no patient exhibited a worsened VIS during this time. One patient complained of hyposmia after surgery, butthere was no indication of related complications such as CSF leakage or frontal brain contusion.

Conclusions. The bilateral subfrontal approach was previously avoided because of the relatively high rate ofcomplications in earlier surgical series of tuberculum sellae meningiomas. However, after developments in microsurgicaltechniques in recent years, the bilateral subfrontal approach can now provide satisfactory visual outcomes withminimal postoperative complications. Careful preservation of the blood supply to optic apparatus and early unroofingof the optic canal using a bilateral subfrontal approach led to further improvement in long-term postoperative visual outcome.