Early outcomes of endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery for adult craniopharyngiomas

Neurosurg Focus 28 (4):E9, 2010. (DOI: 10.3171/2010.1.FOCUS09319)

Although the transsphenoidal approach for subdiaphragmatic craniopharyngiomas has been performed for many years, there are few reports describing the role of the endoscopic transsphenoidal technique for suprasellar craniopharyngiomas. The purpose of this study was to report the outcomes of the endoscopic transsphenoidal approach for adults with craniopharyngiomas in whom the goal was gross-total resection.

Methods. Twelve patients were identified who were older than 18 years at the time of their pure endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery. Their medical records and imaging studies were retrospectively reviewed.

Results. Gross-total resection was achieved in 42% of cases when assessed by intraoperative impression alone and in 75% when assessed by the first postoperative MR imaging study. However, 83% of patients achieved at least a 95% resection when assessed by both intraoperative impression and the first postoperative MR imaging study. Permanent diabetes insipidus occurred postoperatively in 44% of patients. Six (67%) of 9 patients who had a functioning hypothalamic-pituitary axis preoperatively developed panhypopituitarism after surgery. Visual improvement or normalization occurred in 78% of patients with preoperative visual deficits. Although no patient experienced a postoperative CSF leak, 1 patient was treated for meningitis.

Conclusions. The authors have achieved a high rate of radical resection and symptomatic improvement with the endoscopic transsphenoidal technique for both subdiaphragmatic (sellar/suprasellar) and supradiaphragmatic (suprasellar) craniopharyngiomas. However, this is also associated with a high incidence of new endocrinopathy. Endoscopic assessment of tumor resection may be more sensitive for residual tumor than the first postoperative MR imaging study.