The enigma of bifocal germ cell tumors in the suprasellar and pineal regions: synchronous lesions or metastasis?

The enigma of bifocal germ cell tumors in the suprasellar

J Neurosurg Pediatrics 11:107–114, 2013

Intracranial germ cell tumors (GCTs) frequently present with bifocal lesions in both the suprasellar and pineal areas. The pathogenesis of these bifocal GCTs has been the subject of controversy. Bifocal GCTs may be caused by synchronous tumors or by metastatic spread of tumor cells from one site to the other. The prognosis associated with bifocal GCTs has also been a cause of concern.

Methods. The authors constructed a single-institution patient cohort comprising 181 patients with intracranial GCTs. The clinical characteristics of bifocal GCTs were compared with those of suprasellar and pineal GCTs.

Results. Bifocal GCTs were observed in 23 patients (12.8%). Eighteen patients presented with bifocal GCTs that were diagnosed as germinomas, but 5 patients exhibited mixed GCTs. Analyses of age distributions and comparisons of tumor sizes were compatible with a model of a metastatic origin of bifocal GCTs. Eleven patients (47.8%) presenting with bifocal GCTs exhibited tumor seeding at presentation. Tumor seeding was significantly associated with bifocal lesions (p < 0.001). Patients with bifocal germinomas showed significantly shorter event-free survival and overall survival than did those presenting with germinomas from a single site of origin.

Conclusions. Bifocal GCTs are not restricted to germinomas, as had been previously reported, but do include mixed GCTs. The authors hypothesize that bifocal GCTs may result from the metastatic spread of suprasellar or pineal GCTs. The bifocal presentation of germinomas may be a poor prognostic sign and should alert clinicians to the possibility of a disseminated disease.

Pineal region tumors: an optimal approach for simultaneous endoscopic third ventriculostomy and biopsy

Neurosurg Focus 30 (4):E3, 2011. DOI: 10.3171/2011.2.FOCUS10301

Simultaneous endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) and tumor biopsy is a widely accepted therapeutic and diagnostic procedure for patients with noncommunicating hydrocephalus secondary to a pineal region tumor. Multiple approaches have been advocated, including the use of a steerable fiberoptic or rigid lens endoscope via 1 or 2 trajectories. However, the optimal approach has not been established based on the individual anatomical characteristics of the patient.

 Methods. A retrospective review of patients undergoing simultaneous ETV and tumor biopsy was undertaken. Preoperative MR images were examined to measure the width of the anterior third ventricle and maximal diameters of the tumor, Monro foramen (right), and massa intermedia. The distances between the tumor and massa intermedia, tumor and anterior commissure, midbrain and massa intermedia, and the dorsum sella and anterior commissure were also recorded. Single and dual trajectory approaches were compared using paired t-tests for each parameter.

Results. Over an 8-year interval, 15 patients underwent simultaneous ETV and tumor management. These patients ranged from 6 to 71 years of age (mean 36.7 years); 5 were younger than 18 years of age. Seven were treated using a dual trajectory approach, and 8 were treated using a single trajectory approach. All cases were completed without complications or the need for an additional CSF diversionary procedure within 6 months. The diagnostic yield at biopsy was 86.7%. There were no statistically significant differences between the single and dual trajectory groups for the measured parameters. However, the dual trajectory group demonstrated a larger anterior third ventricular diameter (1.43 vs 1.21 cm, p = 0.29). The single trajectory group trended toward a smaller tumor– anterior commissure interval (2.23 vs 2.51 cm, p = 0.24) and a larger dorsum sella–anterior commissure distance (1.67 vs 1.49 cm, p = 0.28).

Conclusions. These data confirm the safety and diagnostic efficacy of simultaneous ETV and biopsy for tumors of the pineal region. Although no statistically significant differences were seen in the authors’ recorded measurements, several trends suggest a role for a tailored approach to selecting a single or dual trajectory approach when using a rigid endoscope