Clival Chordomas in the Endoscopic Endonasal Era: Comparison With Management With Open Skull Base Approaches

Neurosurgery 92:756–761, 2023

The most significant paradigm shift in surgical management of skull base chordomas has been the adoption of the endoscopic endonasal approach, but the impact on patient outcomes compared with open skull base approaches remains unclear.

OBJECTIVE: To compare a large series of patients treated by a single surgeon using primarily endoscopic endonasal approaches with previously published outcomes by the same surgeon using open skull base approaches.

METHODS: Between 2006 and 2020, 68 patients with skull base chordoma underwent resection using primarily endoscopic endonasal approaches. Outcomes and complications were compared with previously published results of resection of chordomas from 1991 to 2005 using open skull base approaches.

RESULTS: Compared with the prior cohort, the current principally endoscopic cohort demonstrated similar rates of OS (P = .86) and progression-free survival (P = .56), but patients undergoing first-time resection had significantly higher rates of radical resection (82.9% compared with 64.3%, P = .05) and required fewer staged surgeries (9.8% compared with 33.3%, P = .01).

CONCLUSION: There was no difference in survival rates for patients treated in the current era, primarily using endoscopic endonasal techniques, compared with previously published results using open skull-base approaches by the same surgeon. Although use of endoscopic endonasal approach resulted in higher rates of radical resection, patients undergoing first-time resection and fewer staged surgeries were required.

Clival Chordomas in the Endoscopic Endonasal Era: Clinical Management, Outcomes, and Complications

Neurosurgery 92:876–883, 2023

Surgical management of skull base chordomas has changed significantly in the past 2 decades, most notably with use of the endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA), although high quality outcome data using these modern approaches remain scarce.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate outcomes in a large series of patients treated by a single surgeon, using primarily the EEA.

METHODS: Between 2006 and 2020, 68 patients with skull base chordoma underwent resection using mostly the EEA. Complications, outcomes, and potential contributing factors were evaluated using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis and univariable and multivariable Cox proportional hazards models.

RESULTS: Overall 5-year survival was 76.3% (95%CI 61.5%-86.0%), and 5-year progressionfree survival was 55.9%(95% CI 40.0%-69.0%). Inmultivariable analysis, radical resection was associated with significant reduction in risk of death (hazard ratio [HR] 0.04, 95% CI 0.005- 0.33, P = .003) and disease progression (HR 0.05, 95% CI 0.01-0.18, P < .001). Better preoperative function status reduced risk of death (HR 0.42 per 10-point increase in Karnofsky Performance Scale, 95% CI 0.28-0.63, P < .001) and progression (HR 0.60 per 10-point increase in Karnofsky Performance Scale, 95% CI 0.45-0.78, P < .001). Localization at the clivus reduced risk of death (HR 0.02, 95% CI 0.002-0.15, P < .001) and progression (HR 0.24, 95% CI 0.09-0.68, P = .007) compared with tumors at the craniovertebral junction.

CONCLUSION: In multivariable analysis, overall survival and progression-free survival of chordoma resection was most positively affected by radical resection, better preoperative functional status, and tumor location at the clivus rather than craniovertebral junction.

Septal rhinopharyngeal flap: a novel technique for skull base reconstruction after endoscopic endonasal clivectomies

J Neurosurg 136:1601–1606, 2022

Endoscopic endonasal reconstruction techniques have improved CSF leak rates that were initially reported after surgery for cranial base and intradural lesions. However, wide surgical defects still pose a problem, especially if located in the clival region.

The authors propose and describe a novel reconstruction technique they call a septal rhinopharyngeal flap (SRF) specifically designed to address this issue. The SRF is formed by three components of mucosa: 1) septal, 2) rhinopharyngeal roof, and 3) rhinopharyngeal posterior wall components, which allows for the coverage of the tuberculum/ sellar region, midclivus, and lower clivus, respectively. A step-by-step procedure is described and its results analyzed in cases in which it has been used. The SRF was performed in 8 patients, which included diagnoses of 4 chordomas, 2 petroclival meningiomas, 1 invasive pituitary adenoma, and 1 chondrosarcoma. The size of the flap was considered optimal in all patients (100%). Postoperative MRI revealed contrast enhancement covering the entire surface of the flap. No CSF leaks were encountered after at least 1 postoperative year.

The SRF is a novel vascularized reconstruction technique specifically indicated for wide endosanasal clivectomies focused on the middle clivus with caudal extension into the lower clivus and craniocervical junction, as well as rostral extensions into the tubercular or planum sphenoidale. This new reconstruction technique could be added to the skull base reconstruction armamentarium as a safe and optimal option.


Morphometric Study of the Posterior Fossa: Identification of Practical Parameters for Tailored Selection of Surgical Routes to the Petroclival Region

J Neurol Surg B Skull Base 2022;83:37–43

The petroclival region is an integral part of the skull base. It can harbor different pathologies and provides access to the petroclival junction and cerebellopontine angle. We present the results of the morphometric analysis of the posterior fossa and a prediction model to enable skull base surgeons to choose an optimal surgical corridor considering patient’s bony anatomy.

Methods Ninety patients (14 to assess interobserver reliability) with temporal bone computed tomography were selected. Exclusion criteria included patients <18 years of age, radiographic evidence of trauma, infection, or previous surgery. The images were analyzed using OsiriX MD (Bernex, Switzerland). We recorded clival length, vertical angle, and surface area, and petroclival angle, petrous apex, and translabyrinthine corridors volume.

Results The average age was 49.5 years (55%) for males. The mean clival length and surface areas were 44.2mm (standard deviation [SD]   4.1) and 8.1 cm2 (SD   1.3). The mean petrous apex and translabyrinthine corridors volumes were 2.2 cm3 (SD   0.6) and 10.1 cm3 (SD   3.7). The mean petroclival angle at the internal auditory canal (IAC) was 154.9 degrees (SD   9). The clival length correlated positively with clival surface area (rho   0.6, p <0.05), petrous apex volume (rho   0.3, p < 0.05), and translabyrinthine volume (rho   0.3, p < 0.05).

Conclusion The petroclival region is complex and with high variability of surgical significance. The use of preoperative measurements of the clival length and petroclival angle as part of surgical planning that could help the surgeon to choose an optimal surgical corridor by overcoming the anatomical variability elements.

Surgical resection of skull-base chordomas: experience in case selection for surgical approach according to anatomical compartments and review of the literature

Acta Neurochir (2017) 159:1835–1845

Chordoma is a rare bony malignancy known to have a high rate of local recurrence after surgery. The best treatment paradigm is still being evaluated. We report our experience and review the literature. We emphasize on the difference between endoscopic and open craniotomy in regard to the anatomical compartment harboring the tumor, the limitations of the approaches and the rate of surgical resection.

Method: We retrospectively collected all patients with skullbase chordomas operated on between 2004 and 2014. Detailed radiological description of the compartments being occupied by the tumor and the degree of surgical resection is discussed.

Results: Eighteen patients were operated on in our facility for skull-base chordoma. Seventeen endoscopic surgeries were done in 15 patients, and 7 craniotomies were done in 5 patients. The mean age was 48.9 years (±19.8 years). When reviewing the anatomical compartments, we found that the most common were the upper clivus (95.6%) and lower clivus (58.3%), left cavernous sinus (66.7%) and petrous apex (∼60%). Most of the patients had intradural tumor involvement (70.8%). In all craniotomy cases, there was residual tumor in multiple compartments. In the endoscopic cases, the most difficult compartments for total resection were the lower clivus, and lateral extensions to the petrous apex or cavernous sinus.

Conclusions: Our experience shows that the endoscopic approach is a good option for midline tumors without significant lateral extension. In cases with very lateral or lower extensions, additional approaches should be added trying to achieve complete resection.

Atlanto-occipital Instability Following Endoscopic Endonasal Approach for Lower Clival Lesions

Atlanto-occipital Instability Following Endoscopic Endonasal Approach for Lower Clival Lesions

Neurosurgery 77:888–897, 2015

The endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) for craniocervical lesions involving the lower clivus and occipital condyles carries an unclear risk of atlantooccipital (AO) instability requiring arthrodesis.

OBJECTIVE: Elucidate risk factors for AO instability following EEA for clival lesions.

METHODS: We reviewed patients with clival tumors who underwent EEA at our institution between 2002 and 2012. Resection of the lower clivus, foramen magnum, AO joint, and occipital condyles were evaluated on fine-cut postoperative computed tomography.

RESULTS: Two hundred twelve patients (mean age 47.9 years, 57.1% male) underwent transclival EEA for lower clival lesions. In addition to the lower clivus, resection involved the condyle in 14.2% of patients, the foramen magnum in 16.5%, and the AO joint in 1.4%. Quantification of condyle resection revealed complete resection in 3 cases, 75% resection in 8 cases, 50% resection in 6 cases, and 25% resection in 13 cases. Seven of these patients had EEA combined with an open, far-lateral approach. In total, 7 patients required arthrodesis following EEA (3.3%), 4 of them after a combined approach. All patients who underwent arthrodesis had primary bone tumors such as chordoma, chondrosarcoma, or osteosarcoma (P = .022). Degree of condyle resection was a significant factor predisposing to occipitocervical instability (P = .001 and P < .001 for 75% and 100% condyle resection, respectively). Use of a combined approach was significantly associated with arthrodesis (P < .001).

CONCLUSION: EEA resection of the occipital condyles that results in greater than 75% condyle resection or EEA in combination with an open approach significantly increases the risk of AO instability and likely necessitates AO fixation.

Endoscopic endonasal resection of skull base chondrosarcomas

Endoscopic endonasal resection of skull base chondrosarcomas- technique and early results

J Neurosurg 122:735–742, 2015

The authors of this study sought to report the technique and early clinical outcomes of a purely endonasal endoscopic approach for resection of petroclival chondrosarcomas.

Methods Between 2010 and 2014, 8 patients (4 men and 4 women) underwent endonasal endoscopic operations to resect petroclival chondrosarcomas at 2 institutions. The patients’ mean age was 44.8 years (range 30–64 years). One of the patients had previously undergone radiation therapy and another a staged craniotomy. Using volumetric software, an independent neuroradiologist assessed the extent of the resections on MRI scans taken immediately after surgery and at the 3-month follow-up. Immediate complications and control of symptoms were also recorded. In addition, the authors reviewed the current literature on surgical treatment of chondrosarcoma.

Results The mean preoperative tumor diameter and volume were 3.4 cm and 9.8 cm3, respectively. Six patients presented with cranial neuropathies. Endonasal endoscopic surgery achieved > 95% resection in 5 of the 8 patients and < 95% resection in the remaining 3 patients. One of the 6 neuropathies resolved, and the remaining 5 partially improved. One instance of postoperative CSF leakage required a reoperation for repair; no other complications associated with these operations were observed. All of the patients underwent adjuvant radiotherapy.

Conclusions According to the authors’ experience, the endoscopic endonasal route is a safe and effective approach for the resection of appropriately selected petroclival chondrosarcomas.

Solitary lesions of the clivus: what else besides chordomas?

Clivus lesions

Solitary non-chordomatous lesions of the clivus are rare pathologies, which represent a diagnostic challenge. This study provides an overview of the clinical, radiological and prognostic characteristics of non-chordomatous clival lesions, highlighting current therapeutic options.

Methods Twenty-two non-chordomatous lesions of the clivus were collected. A retrospective analysis of clinical and radiological patterns as well as survival data was conducted.

Results Clinical presentation was a result of local mass effect. Imaging features, although mainly specific, were not always diagnostic. Extent of surgery was gross total in 45.5 % of cases. Depending on the histology, biological behaviour and presence of seeding, adjuvant treatment was performed, tailoring the treatment strategy to the single patient.

Conclusions Solitary non-chordomatous lesions of the clival bone are more prevalent than expected. They should be approached with a correct differential diagnosis, considering specific epidemiological, radiological, and histopathological characteristics, to minimise diagnostic bias and allow the planning of the best treatment strategy.

Full endoscopic endonasal expanded approach to the petroclival region: optimizing the carotid-clival window

Full endoscopic endonasal expanded approach to the petroclival region- optimizing the carotid-clival window

Acta Neurochir (2014) 156:1627–1629

The petroclival junction (PCJ) is a challenging skull base location from neurosurgical point of view, especially if the retrocarotid space has to be reached.

Method In response to this challenge, this report provides a detailed full description of the endoscopic endonasal expanded approach (EEA) to the petroclival region and retrocarotid space. We present the technique step by step, introducing a critical concept about the optimization of the petroclival drilling, generating the carotid-clival window (CCW). The CCW is delimited by the paraclival segment of the internal carotid artery ICA anterolaterally, the petrous bone posterolaterally, the clival dura medially, the synchondrosis inferiorly, and the cavernous sinus superiorly; therefore, this approach exposes an important nuance to augment the previous approaches for PCJ and retrocarotid space.

Conclusion This technique provides a good surgical window and carries minimal risk.

Pontine encephalocele and abnormalities of the posterior fossa following transclival endoscopic endonasal surgery

Pontine encephalocele and abnormalities of the posterior fossa following transclival endoscopic endonasal surgery

J Neurosurg 121:359–366, 2014

Transclival endoscopic endonasal surgery (EES) has recently been used for the treatment of posterior fossa tumors. The optimal method of reconstruction of large clival defects following EES has not been established.

Methods. A morphometric analysis of the posterior fossa was performed in patients who underwent transclival EES to compare those with observed postoperative anatomical changes (study group) to 50 normal individuals (anatomical control group) and 41 matched transclival cases with preserved posterior fossa anatomy (case-control group) using the same parameters. Given the absence of clival bone following transclival EES, the authors used the line between the anterior commissure and the basion as an equivalent to the clival plane to evaluate the location of the pons. Four parameters were studied and compared in the two populations: the pontine location/displacement, the maximum anteroposterior (AP) diameter of the pons, the maximum AP diameter of the fourth ventricle, and the cervicomedullary angle (CMA). All measurements were performed on midsagittal 3-month postoperative MR images in the study group.

Results. Among 103 posterior fossa tumors treated with transclival EES, 14 cases (13.6%) with postoperative posterior fossa anatomy changes were identified. The most significant change was anterior displacement of the pons (transclival pontine encephalocele) compared with the normal location in the anatomical control group (p < 0.0001). Other significant deformities were expansion of the AP diameter of the pons (p = 0.005), enlargement of the fourth ventricle (p = 0.001), and decrease in the CMA (p < 0.0001). All patients who developed these changes had undergone extensive resection of the clival bone (> 50% of the clivus) and dura. Nine (64.3%) of the 14 patients were overweight (body mass index [BMI] > 25 kg/m2). An association between BMI and the degree of pontine encephalocele was observed, but did not reach statistical significance. The use of a fat graft as part of the reconstruction technique following transclival EES with dural opening was the single significant factor that prevented pontine displacement (p = 0.02), associated with 91% lower odds of pontine encephalocele (OR = 0.09, 95% CI 0.01–0.77). The effect of fat graft reconstruction was more pronounced in overweight/obese individuals (p = 0.04) than in normal-weight patients (p = 0.52). Besides reconstruction technique, other noticeable findings were the tendency of younger adults to develop pontine encephalocele (p = 0.05) and the association of postoperative meningitis with the development of posterior fossa deformities (p = 0.05). One patient developed a transient, recurrent subjective diplopia; all others remained asymptomatic.

Conclusions. Significant changes in posterior fossa anatomy that have potential clinical implications have been observed following transclival transdural EES. These changes are more common in younger patients or those with meningitis and may be associated with BMI. The use of a fat graft combined with the vascularized nasoseptal flap appears to minimize the risk of pontine herniation following transclival EES with dural opening.

Endoscopic endonasal approach in the management of skull base chordomas

Endoscopic approach skull base chordomas

Neurosurg Rev (2014) 37:217–225

Skull base chordomas represent very interesting neoplasms, due to their rarity, biological behavior, and resistance to treatment. Their management is very challenging. Recently, the use of a natural corridor, through the nose and the sphenoid sinus, improved morbidity and mortality allowing also for excellent removal rates.

Prospective analysis of 54 patients harboring a skull base chordoma that were managed by extended endonasal endoscopic approach (EEA). Among the 54 patients treated (during a 72 months period), 21 were women and 33 men, undergoing 58 procedures. Twenty-two cases (40 %) were recurrent and 32 (60 %) newly diagnosed chordomas. Among the 32 newly diagnosed chordomas, a gross total resection was achieved in 28 cases (88%), a near total (>95%of tumor) in 2 cases (6%), a partial (>50 % of tumor) in 2 cases (6 %). Among the 22 recurrent chordomas, resection was complete in 7 cases (30 %), near total in 7 (30%), and partial in 8 (40 %). The global gross total resection rate was 65 % (35/54 cases). Four patients (11 %) recurred and 4 (11 %) progressed within a mean follow-up of 34 months (range 12–84 months). Four patients (11 %) were re-operated; one patient (1.8 %) died due to disease progression, one patient (1.8 %) died 2 weeks after surgery due to a massive bleeding from an ICA pseudo aneurysm. CSF leakage occurred in four patients (8 %), and meningitis in eight cases (14 %). No new permanent neurological deficit occurred.

The EEA management of skull base chordomas requires a long and gradual learning curve that once acquired offers the possibility of either similar or better resection rates as compared to traditional approaches while morbidity is improved.

Solitary clival plasmocytomas

Solitary clival plasmocytomas

Acta Neurochir (2013) 155:1849–1856

Tumours of the clivus are exceptionally rare, representing a diagnostic and a therapeutic challenge. Clival solitary plasmocytomas have been described only as single case reports or included in small clinical series with other intracranial location.

Methods Authors report clinical, radiological, and survival data of four patients, who underwent surgery for clival plasmocytomas between 1989 and 2012 in a single centre. Current knowledge about solitary plasmocytomas of the clivus are reviewed.

Results Follow-up time was 54 months (range: 9–165). Mean age of patient was 57 years, no gender predilection was observed. Main symptoms were headache (75 %) and double vision (75 %), due to third or sixth cranial nerve palsy. Mean time to diagnosis was 8.2 months. All patients underwent surgery as primary treatment, through either a transsphenoidal (75 %) or a transmaxillary approach (25 %). In all cases adjuvant conventional radiotherapy was performed with a median delivered dose of 45 Gy. Only one case of progression into multiple myeloma was observed 13 months after surgery, and the patient died 9 months later. No other recurrences or progression were observed. Mean overall survival and progression free survival time were, respectively, 54 and 51.7 months.

Conclusions Although extremely rare, clival plasmocytomas have to be considered in the differential diagnosis of a solitary clival lesion. Biological and clinical features of these tumours strongly differ from those of similar lesions in other part of the body. Early diagnosis, extensive tumour removal, opportune indication of adjuvant treatment with radiotherapy and chemotherapy are the keys to manage these cases.

Combined extradural subtemporal and anterior transpetrosal approach to tumors located in the interpeduncular fossa and the upper clivus

Approach to interpeduncular fossa and upper clivus

Acta Neurochir (2013) 155:1401–1407

Central skull base lesions in the interpeduncular fossa and the upper clival regions can be challenging to access because of their location anterior to the brainstem. We have modified the anterior transpetrosal approach by combination with the extradural subtemporal route to increase the surgical corridor.

Methods Thirty-seven patients underwent surgical treatment via the anterior transpetrosal approach from 2002 to 2012. The combined surgical approach was primarily applied when the tumors arose from the upper clival portion and extended to the interpeduncular fossa. The combined approach was used in seven of these patients, comprising four patients with petroclival meningiomas, one patient with sphenoclival meningiomas, one patient with trigeminal schwannoma, and one patient with an epidermoid cyst extending from the interpeduncular fossa to the prepontine cistern.

Results The combined approach permitted excellent visualization of the interpeduncular fossa in addition to the upper clivus and the lateral aspect of the brain stem. Mobilization of the temporal lobe by the entire epidural dissection of the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus facilitates access via the subtemporal route. The transient symptom of the temporal lobe in the dominant site may be the only drawback for this combined approach, although it may disappear immediately after the surgery.

Conclusion The present approach combines Dolenc’s approach and Kawase’s approach, providing a wide exposure to lesions of the interpeduncular fossa and the clivus.

How I do it: epidural anterior petrosectomy

Acta Neurochir (2011) 153:1161–1167. DOI 10.1007/s00701-011-1010-9

Among the potential approaches to access the petroclival area, epidural anterior petrosectomy (EAP) appears to be the most direct and conservative transpetrous route.

In this article, we aim to detail the relevant surgical steps necessary to perform EAP in a reproducible and safe manner.

Method The temporo-pterional bone flap is tailored to access the floor of the middle fossa and expose the foramen ovale and foramen spinosum. Elevation of the dura covering the upper surface of the petrous apex is conducted medially toward the level of the petrous ridge. Identification of the landmarks of the rhomboid fossa delineates the limits of the drilling zone (necessary for removal of the petrous apex)—beneath Meckel’s cave and just anterior to the anterior margin of the internal auditory meatus. The tentorium is divided at its free edge and is followed by opening of the posterior fossa dura.

Conclusion Epidural anterior petrosectomy is a conservative trans-petrous approach that offers an excellent direct surgical corridor for exposure of disease processes involving Meckel’s cave, the petroclival area and the ventrolateral pons

Clival chordomas: clinical management, results, and complications in 71 patients

J Neurosurg 113:1059–1071, 2010. DOI: 10.3171/2009.9.JNS08596

Chordomas are rare malignant neoplasms arising predominantly at the sacrum and skull base. They are uniformly lethal unless treated with aggressive resection and proton beam irradiation. The authors present results of the surgical management of a large number of patients with clivus chordomas. Factors that influence the surgeon’s ability to achieve radical tumor resection are also evaluated.

Methods. Between 1991 and 2005, 71 patients with clivus chordomas underwent surgery. The average followup was 66 months (median 60 months, range 3–189 months). Sixty-five patients had complete records that were analyzed in the present report. Thirty-five percent of them had undergone surgery before being treated by the authors. They were evaluated with MR imaging and CT scanning and underwent surgery utilizing a variety of skull base techniques aimed at achieving radical excision. Many also underwent postoperative radiation, usually in the form of proton beam therapy. The patients were followed up with serial imaging at regular intervals as well as with neurological evaluation.

Results. Radical tumor resection was achieved in 58% of the group. The overall 5-year survival rate was 75%. Radical resection had a positive impact on survival. The ability to achieve radical resection was dependent on the preoperative tumor volume and the number of anatomical areas involved by the tumor. Cranial nerve impairment and CSF leakage were the most frequent postoperative complications.

Conclusions. Radical excision is the ideal surgical goal in the treatment of clival chordomas and can be achieved with reasonable risks. Several different surgical approaches may be necessary to accomplish this.

Endoscopic endonasal transclival resection of chordomas: operative technique, clinical outcome, and review of the literature

J Neurosurg 112:1061–1069, 2010. DOI: 10.3171/2009.7.JNS081504

Transcranial approaches to clival chordomas provide a circuitous route to the site of origin of the tumor often involving extensive bone drilling and brain retraction, which places critical neurovascular structures between the surgeon and pathology. For certain chordomas, the endonasal endoscopic transclival approach is a novel minimal access, but it is an equally aggressive alternative providing the most direct route to the tumor epicenter.

Methods. The authors present a consecutive series of patients undergoing endonasal endoscopic resection of clival chordomas. Extent of resection was determined by postoperative volumetric MR imaging and divided into > 95% and < 95%.

Results. Seven patients underwent 10 operations. Preoperative cranial neuropathies were present in 4. The mean patient age was 52.0 years. The mean tumor volume was 34.9 cm3. Intraoperative lumbar drainage was used in 1 patient, and the tumors extended intradurally in 3. One patient underwent 2 intentionally palliative procedures for subtotal debulking. Greater than 95% resection was achieved in 7 of 8 operations in which radical resection was the goal (87%). All tumors with volumes < 50 cm3 had > 95% resection (p = 0.05). The overall mean follow-up was 18.0 months. Cranial neuropathies resolved in all 3 patients with cranial nerve VI palsies. One patient with recurrent nasopharyngeal chordoma died of disease progression; another experienced 2 recurrences before receiving radiation therapy. All surviving patients remain progression free. There were no intraoperative complications; however, 1 patient developed a pulmonary embolus postoperatively. There were no postoperative CSF leaks.

Conclusions. The endonasal endoscopic transclival approach represents a less invasive and more direct approach than a transcranial approach to treat certain moderate-sized midline skull base chordomas. Longer follow-up is necessary to determine comparability to transcranial approaches for long-term control. Large tumors with significant extension lateral to the carotid artery may not be suitable for this approach.

Extended transsphenoidal approach for pituitary adenomas invading the anterior cranial base, cavernous sinus, and clivus: a single-center experience with 126 consecutive cases

J Neurosurg 112:108–117, 2010. (DOI: 10.3171/2009.3.JNS0929)

The standard transsphenoidal approach has been successfully used to resect most pituitary adenomas. However, as a result of the limited exposure provided by this procedure, complete surgical removal of pituitary adenomas with parasellar or retrosellar extension remains problematic. By additional bone removal of the cranial base, the extended transsphenoidal approach provides better exposure to the parasellar and clival region compared with the standard approach. The authors describe their surgical experience with the extended transsphenoidal approach to remove pituitary adenomas invading the anterior cranial base, cavernous sinus (CS), and clivus. Methods. Retrospective analysis was performed in 126 patients with pituitary adenomas that were surgically treated via the extended transsphenoidal approach between September 1999 and March 2008. There were 55 male and 71 female patients with a mean age of 43.4 years (range 12–75 years). There were 82 cases of macroadenoma and 44 cases of giant adenoma. Results. Gross-total resection was achieved in 78 patients (61.9%), subtotal resection in 43 (34.1%), and partial resection in 5 (4%). Postoperative complications included transient cerebrospinal rhinorrhea (7 cases), incomplete cranial nerve palsy (5), panhypopituitarism (5), internal carotid artery injury (2), monocular blindness (2), permanent diabetes insipidus (1), and perforation of the nasal septum (2). No intraoperative or postoperative death was observed. Conclusions. The extended transsphenoidal approach provides excellent exposure to pituitary adenomas invading the anterior cranial base, CS, and clivus. This approach enhances the degree of tumor resection and keeps postoperative complications relatively low. However, radical resection of tumors that are firm, highly invasive to the CS, or invading multidirectionally remains a big challenge. This procedure not only allows better visualization of the tumor and the neurovascular structures but also provides significant working space under the microscope, which facilitates intraoperative manipulation. Preoperative imaging studies and new techniques such as the neuronavigation system and the endoscope improve the efficacy and safety of tumor resection.