Predictors of extent of resection and recurrence following endoscopic endonasal resection of craniopharyngioma

J Neurosurg 139:1235–1246, 2023

Craniopharyngioma is a benign but surgically challenging brain tumor. Controversies exist regarding its ideal treatment strategy, goals of surgery, efficacy of radiation, and the long-term outcomes of these decisions. The authors of this study performed a detailed analysis of factors predictive of the extent of resection and recurrence in large series of craniopharyngiomas removed via an endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) with long-term follow-up.

METHODS From a prospective database of all EEAs done at Weill Cornell Medical College by the senior author from 2004 to 2022, a consecutive series of histologically proven craniopharyngiomas were identified. Gross-total resection (GTR) was generally the goal of surgery. Radiation was often given if GTR had not been achieved. The stalk was preserved if not infiltrated with tumor but was sacrificed to achieve GTR. Intentional subtotal resection (STR) was performed in select cases to avoid hypothalamic injury.

RESULTS Among the 111 identified cases were 88 adults and 23 children. Newly diagnosed cases comprised 58.6% of the series. GTR was attempted in 77.5% of the patients and among those cases was achieved in 89.5% of treatmentnaive tumors and 72.4% of recurrent tumors. An inability to achieve GTR was predicted by prior surgical treatment (OR 0.13, 95% CI 0.03–0.6, p = 0.009), tumor diameter ≥ 3.5 cm (OR 0.11, 95% CI 0.02–0.53, p = 0.006), and encasement of the optic nerve or a major artery (OR 0.11, 95% CI 0.01–0.8, p = 0.03). GTR with stalk preservation maintained some anterior pituitary function in 64.5% of cases and prevented diabetes insipidus in 25.8%. After a median follow-up of 51 months (IQR 17–80 months), the recurrence rate after GTR was 12.5% compared with 38.5% after non-GTR. The median recurrence-free survival was 5.5 years after STR, 8.3 years after near-total resection (≥ 98%), and not reached after GTR (p = 0.004, log-rank test). GTR was the strongest predictor of recurrence-free survival (OR 0.09, 95% CI 0.02–0.42, p = 0.002), whereas radiation did not show a statistically significant impact (OR 1.17, 95% CI 0.45–3.08). In GTR cases, the recurrence rate was higher if the stalk had been preserved (22.6%) as opposed to a sacrificed stalk (4.9%; OR 5.69, 95% CI 1.09–29.67).

CONCLUSIONS The study data show that GTR should be the goal of surgery in craniopharyngiomas if it can be achieved safely. Although stalk preservation can maintain some endocrine function, the risk of recurrence is higher in such cases. Radiation may not be as effective as previously reported.

Assessment of the endoscopic endonasal approach to the basilar apex region for aneurysm clipping

J Neurosurg 130:1937–1948, 2019

The expanded endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) has shown promising results in treatment of midline skull base lesions. Several case reports exist on the utilization of the EEA for treatment of aneurysms. However, a comparison of this approach with the classic transcranial orbitozygomatic approach to the basilar apex (BAX) region is missing. The present study summarizes the results of a series of cadaveric surgical simulations for assessment of the EEA to the BAX region for aneurysm clipping and its comparison with the transcranial orbitozygomatic approach as one of the most common approaches used to treat BAX aneurysms.

METHODS Fifteen cadaveric specimens underwent bilateral orbitozygomatic craniotomies as well as an EEA (first without a pituitary transposition [PT] and then with a PT) to expose the BAX. The following variables were measured, recorded, and compared between the orbitozygomatic approach and the EEA: 1) number of perforating arteries counted on bilateral posterior cerebral arteries (PCAs); 2) exposure and clipping lengths of the PCAs, superior cerebellar arteries (SCAs), and proximal basilar artery; and 3) surgical area of exposure in the BAX region.

RESULTS Except for the proximal basilar artery exposure and clipping, the orbitozygomatic approach provided statistically significantly greater values for vascular exposure and control in the BAX region (i.e., exposure and clipping of ipsilateral and contralateral SCAs and PCAs). The EEA with PT was significantly better in exposing and clipping bilateral PCAs compared to EEA without a PT, but not in terms of other measured variables. The surgical area of exposure and PCA perforator counts were not significantly different between the 3 approaches. The EEA provided better exposure and control if the BAX was located ≥ 4 mm inferior to the dorsum sellae.

CONCLUSIONS For BAX aneurysms located in the retrosellar area, PT is usually required to obtain improved exposure and control for the bilateral PCAs. However, the transcranial approach is generally superior to both endoscopic approaches for accessing the BAX region. Considering the superior exposure of the proximal basilar artery obtained with the EEA, it could be a viable option when surgical treatment is considered for a low-lying BAX or mid–basilar trunk aneurysms (≥ 4 mm inferior to dorsum sellae).