Long-term visual outcome after microsurgical removal of occipital lobe cavernomas

J Neurosurg 117:295–301, 2012

Cavernomas in the occipital lobe are relatively rare. Because of the proximity to the visual cortex and incoming subcortical tracts, microsurgical removal of occipital cavernomas may be associated with a risk of visual field defects. The goal of the study was to analyze long-term outcome after operative treatment of occipital cavernomas with special emphasis on visual outcome.

Methods. Of the 390 consecutive patients with cavernomas who were treated at Helsinki University Central Hospital between 1980 and 2011, 19 (5%) had occipital cavernomas. Sixteen patients (4%) were surgically treated and are included in this study. The median age was 39 years (range 3–59 years). Seven patients (56%) suffered from hemorrhage preoperatively, 5 (31%) presented with visual field deficits, 11 (69%) suffered from seizures, and 4 (25%) had multiple cavernomas. Surgery was indicated for progressive neurological deterioration. The median follow-up after surgery was 5.25 years (range 0.5–14 years).

Results. All patients underwent thorough neuroophthalmological assessment to determine visual outcome after surgery. Visual fields were classified as normal, mild homonymous visual field loss (not disturbing the patient, driving allowed), moderate homonymous visual field loss (disturbing the patient, driving prohibited), and severe visual field loss (total homonymous hemianopia or total homonymous quadrantanopia). At the last follow-up, 4 patients (25%) had normal visual fields, 6 (38%) had a mild visual field deficit, 1 (6%) complained of moderate visual field impairment, and 5 (31%) had severe homonymous visual field loss. Cavernomas seated deeper than 2 cm from the pial surface carried a 4.4-fold risk of postoperative visual field deficit relative to superficial ones (p = 0.034). Six (55%) of the 11 patients presenting with seizures were seizure-free postoperatively. Eleven (69%) of 16 patients had no disability during the long-term follow-up.

Conclusions. Surgical removal of occipital cavernomas may carry a significant risk of postoperative visual field deficit, and the risk is even higher for deeper lesions. Seizure outcome after removal of these cavernomas appeared to be worse than that after removal in other supratentorial locations. This should be taken into account during preoperative planning.


Occipital WHO grade II gliomas: oncological, surgical and functional considerations

Acta Neurochir (2011) 153:1907–1917. DOI 10.1007/s00701-011-1125-z

Diffuse WHO grade II glioma (GIIG) involving the occipital lobe is a rare entity. Its surgical resection remains controversial as it implies inducing a permanent visual deficit. For the first time to our knowledge, we report a consecutive surgical series of patients who underwent an occipital lobectomy for an LGG invading visual structures.

Method Six right-handed patients harboring a GIIG revealed by seizures (normal examination except a quadrantanopsia in one case) and located within the occipital lobe (4 left and 2 right tumors) were submitted to surgery. Before making this decision, the benefit-to-risk ratio of the resection was extensively discussed with the patient and his/her family, especially concerning the price to pay to remove the tumor, that is, to voluntarily generate a permanent hemianopsia. All the procedures were performed under awake condition using intraoperative electrostimulation, in order to pursue the resection until sensory-motor and/or language structures were encountered.

Findings An extensive occipital lobectomy was achieved in the six patients, with identification and preservation of sensory-motor pathways in the two cases with a right tumor and detection of language pathways in the four cases with a left tumor. The mean extent of resection was 93% (range: 91–100%). All patients experienced an expected postoperative deficit of the visual field (homonymous hemianopsia). Nonetheless, the six patients resumed a normal social and professional life (KPS at 90 in the 6 cases) with a mean follow-up of 58 months (range: 3–147 months)—with adjuvant treatment in three cases (in addition to a reoperation in two of them).

Conclusions Our findings suggest that, despite a definitive hemianopsia, an extensive surgical resection can be considered in the rare cases of occipital GIIG involving the primary visual structures, with patients able to maintain a normal life—except regarding the medico-legal problem of driving.