Surgical outcomes after reoperation for recurrent skull base meningiomas

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Skull base meningiomas are surgically challenging tumors due to the intricate skull base anatomy and the proximity of cranial nerves and critical cerebral vasculature. Many studies have reported outcomes after primary resection of skull base meningiomas; however, little is known about outcomes after reoperation for recurrent skull base meningiomas. Since reoperation is one treatment option for patients with recurrent meningioma, the authors sought to define the risk profile for reoperation of skull base meningiomas.


A retrospective review of 2120 patients who underwent resection of meningiomas between 1985 and 2016 was conducted. Clinical information was extracted from the medical records, radiology data, and pathology data. All records of patients with recurrent skull base meningiomas were reviewed. Demographic data, presenting symptoms, surgical management, outcomes, and complications data were collected. Kaplan-Meier analysis was used to evaluate survival after reoperation. Logistic regression was used to evaluate for risk factors associated with complications.


Seventy-eight patients underwent 100 reoperations for recurrent skull base meningiomas. Seventeen patients had 2 reoperations, 3 had 3 reoperations, and 2 had 4 or more reoperations. The median age at diagnosis was 52 years, and 64% of patients were female. The median follow-up was 8.5 years. Presenting symptoms included cranial neuropathy, headache, seizure, proptosis, and weakness. The median time from initial resection to first reoperation was 4.4 years and 4.1 years from first to second reoperation. Seventy-two percent of tumors were WHO grade I, 22% were WHO grade II, and 6% were WHO grade III. The sphenoid wing was the most common location (31%), followed by cerebellopontine angle (14%), cavernous sinus (13%), olfactory groove (12%), tuberculum sellae (12%), and middle fossa floor (5%). Forty-four (54%) tumors were ≥ 3 cm in maximum diameter at the time of the first reoperation. In 100 reoperations, 60 complications occurred in 30 cases. Twenty of the 60 complications required surgical intervention (33%). Complications included hydrocephalus (12), CSF leak/pseudomeningocele (11), wound infection (9), postoperative hematoma (4), venous infarction (1), and pneumocephalus (1). Postoperative neurological deficits included new or worsened cranial nerve deficits (10) and hemiparesis (3). There were no perioperative deaths in this series. On multivariate analysis, posterior fossa location was significantly associated with complications (OR 3.45, p = 0.0472). The 1-, 2-, 5-, and 10-year overall survival rates according to Kaplan-Meier analysis after the first reoperation were 94%, 92%, 88%, and 76%, respectively. The median survival after the first reoperation was 17 years.


Recurrent skull base meningiomas are surgically challenging tumors, and reoperation is associated with high morbidity and complication rates. Despite these cautionary data, repeat resection of recurrent skull base meningiomas in appropriately selected patients provides excellent long-term survival.

ABBREVIATIONS EBRT = external-beam radiotherapy; EMR = electronic medical record.

Article Information

Correspondence Stephen T. Magill: University of California, San Francisco, CA.

INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online May 4, 2018; DOI: 10.3171/2017.11.JNS172278.

S.T.M. and D.S.L contributed equally to this work.

Disclosures The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.



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    Kaplan-Meier survival curves. A: Survival after initial diagnosis. B: Survival after first reoperation. C: Survival after second reoperation. Figure is available in color online only.



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