Meningiomas of the ventral foramen magnum and lower clivus: factors influencing surgical morbidity, the extent of tumour resection, and tumour recurrence

Acta Neurochir (2010) 152:79–86 DOI 10.1007/s00701-009-0511-2

Purpose To identify an appropriate surgical approach for meningiomas of the foramen magnum and lower clivus and determine the factors influencing the surgical outcomes. Method The study involved 23 patients with foramen magnum or lower clival meningiomas (8 men, 15 women; average age, 56 years; range, 26–70 years) treated at Keio University Hospital between 1991 and 2008. Their clinical data were retrospectively reviewed with regard to the surgical approaches and outcomes. The average follow-up duration was 42.8 months, the mean tumour size, 25.9 mm (range, 12.0–50.0 mm).

Findings The tumours most commonly originated in the anterolateral rim of the foramen magnum. In 12 cases with lateral compression of the brain stem, the tumours were resected via the suboccipital approach with C1 laminectomy. The transcondylar approach was adopted in 11 cases where the tumour was located on the anterior rim of the foramen magnum. Four patients required epidural drilling of the jugular tubercle. Gross total resection was achieved in 15 cases (62.5%), the resection rate being lowest in cases of tumour extension to the lower clivus. The transient and permanent morbidity rates were 30.4% and 17.4%, respectively. Logistic regression analysis revealed that extension to the lower clivus (noted in 6 of 23 patients) was a statistically significant, independent factor influencing the permanent morbidity rate (p = 0.005).

Conclusions Selecting an appropriate surgical approach considering the tumour location resulted in a good surgical outcome. However, tumour extension to the lower clivus strongly influenced the morbidity and tumour radicality.