Optic nerve mobilization to enhance the exposure of the pituitary stalk during craniopharyngioma resection

optic-nerve-mobilization-to-enhance-the-exposure-of-the-pituitary-stalk-during-craniopharyngioma-resection

J Neurosurg 125:683–688, 2016

Preservation of the pituitary stalk and its vasculature is a key step in good postoperative endocrinological outcome in patients with craniopharyngiomas. In this article, the authors describe the surgical technique of medial optic nerve mobilization for better inspection and preservation of the pituitary stalk.

Methods This operative technique has been applied in 3 patients. Following tumor exposure via a frontolateral approach, the pituitary stalk could be seen partially hidden under the optic nerve and the optic chiasm. The subchiasmatic and opticocarotid spaces were narrow, and tumor dissection from the pituitary stalk under direct vision was not possible. The optic canal was therefore unroofed, the falciform ligament was incised, and the lateral part of the tuberculum sellae was drilled medial to the optic nerve. The optic nerve could be mobilized medially to widen the opticocarotid triangle, which enhanced visualization of and access to the pituitary stalk.

Results By using the optic nerve mobilization technique, the tumor could be removed completely, and the pituitary stalk and its vasculature were preserved in all patients. In 2 patients, vision improved after surgery, while in 1 patient it remained normal, as it was before surgery. The hormonal status remained normal after surgery in 2 patients. In the patient with preoperative hormonal deficiencies, improvement occurred early after surgery and hormonal levels were normal after 3 months. No approach-related complications occurred.

Conclusions This early experience shows that this technique is safe and could be used as a complementary step during microsurgery of craniopharyngiomas. It allows for tumor dissection from the pituitary stalk under direct vision. The pituitary stalk can thus be preserved without jeopardizing the optic nerve.