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Lessons learned in the evolution of endoscopic skull base surgery

JNSPG 75th Anniversary Invited Review Article

Theodore H. Schwartz, Peter F. Morgenstern and Vijay K. Anand

OBJECTIVE

Endoscopic skull base surgery (ESBS) is a relatively recent addition to the neurosurgical armamentarium. As with many new approaches, there has been significant controversy regarding its value compared with more traditional approaches to ventral skull base pathology. Although early enthusiasm for new approaches that appear less invasive is usually high, these new techniques require rigorous study to ensure that widespread implementation is in the best interest of patients.

METHODS

The authors compared surgical results for ESBS with transcranial surgery (TCS) for several different pathologies over two different time periods (prior to 2012 and 2012–2017) to see how results have evolved over time. Pathologies examined were craniopharyngioma, anterior skull base meningioma, esthesioneuroblastoma, chordoma, and chondrosarcoma.

RESULTS

ESBS offers clear advantages over TCS for most craniopharyngiomas and chordomas. For well-selected cases of planum sphenoidale and tuberculum sellae meningiomas, ESBS has similar rates of resection with higher rates of visual improvement, and more recent results with lower CSF leaks make the complication rates similar between the two approaches. TCS offers a higher rate of resection with fewer complications for olfactory groove meningiomas. ESBS is preferred for lower-grade esthesioneuroblastomas, but higher-grade tumors often still require a craniofacial approach. There are few data on chondrosarcomas, but early results show that ESBS appears to offer clear advantages for minimizing morbidity with similar rates of resection, as long as surgeons are familiar with more complex inferolateral approaches.

CONCLUSIONS

ESBS is maturing into a well-established approach that is clearly in the patients’ best interest when applied by experienced surgeons for appropriate pathology. Ongoing critical reevaluation of outcomes is essential for ensuring optimal results.

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Jonathan A. Forbes, Edgar G. Ordóñez-Rubiano, Hilarie C. Tomasiewicz, Matei A. Banu, Iyan Younus, Georgiana A. Dobri, C. Douglas Phillips, Ashutosh Kacker, Babacar Cisse, Vijay K. Anand and Theodore H. Schwartz

OBJECTIVE

Intrinsic third ventricular craniopharyngiomas (IVCs) have been reported by some authors to “pose the greatest surgical challenge” of all craniopharyngiomas (CPAs). A variety of open microsurgical approaches have historically been used for resection of these tumors. Despite increased utilization of the endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) for resection of CPAs in recent years, many authors continue to recommend against use of the EEA for resection of IVCs. In this paper, the authors present the largest series to date utilizing the EEA to remove IVCs.

METHODS

The authors reviewed a prospectively acquired database of the EEA for resection of IVCs over 14 years at Weill Cornell Medical College, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Preoperative MR images were examined independently by two neurosurgeons and a neuroradiologist to identify IVCs. Pre- and postoperative endocrinological, ophthalmological, radiographic, and other morbidities were determined from retrospective chart review and volumetric radiographic analysis.

RESULTS

Between January 2006 and August 2017, 10 patients (4 men, 6 women) ranging in age from 26 to 67 years old, underwent resection of an IVC utilizing the EEA. Preoperative endocrinopathy was present in 70% and visual deterioration in 60%. Gross-total resection (GTR) was achieved in 9 (90%) of 10 patients, with achievement of near-total (98%) resection in the remaining patient. Pathology was papillary in 30%. Closure incorporated a “gasket-seal” technique with nasoseptal flap coverage and either lumbar drainage (9 patients) or a ventricular drain (1 patient). Postoperatively, complete anterior and posterior pituitary insufficiency was present in 90% and 70% of patients, respectively. In 4 patients with normal vision prior to surgery, 3 had stable vision following tumor resection. One patient noted a new, incongruous, left inferior homonymous quadrantanopsia postoperatively. In the 6 patients who presented with compromised vision, 2 reported stable vision following surgery. Each of the remaining 4 patients noted significant improvement in vision after tumor resection, with complete restoration of normal vision in 1 patient. Aside from the single case (10%) of visual deterioration referenced above, there were no instances of postoperative neurological decline. Postoperative CSF leakage occurred in 1 morbidly obese patient who required reoperation for revision of closure. After a mean follow-up of 46.8 months (range 4–131 months), tumor recurrence was observed in 2 patients (20%), one of whom was treated with radiation and the other with chemotherapy. Both of these patients had previously undergone GTR of the IVC.

CONCLUSIONS

The 10 patients described in this report represent the largest number of patients with IVC treated using EEA for resection to date. EEA for resection of IVC is a safe and efficacious operative strategy that should be considered a surgical option in the treatment of this challenging subset of tumors.

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Edgar G. Ordóñez-Rubiano, Jonathan A. Forbes, Peter F. Morgenstern, Leopold Arko, Georgiana A. Dobri, Jeffrey P. Greenfield, Mark M. Souweidane, Apostolos John Tsiouris, Vijay K. Anand, Ashutosh Kacker and Theodore H. Schwartz

OBJECTIVE

Gross-total resection (GTR) of craniopharyngiomas (CPs) is potentially curative and is often the goal of surgery, but endocrinopathy generally results if the stalk is sacrificed. In some cases, GTR can be attempted while still preserving the stalk; however, stalk manipulation or devascularization may cause endocrinopathy and this strategy risks leaving behind small tumor remnants that can recur.

METHODS

A retrospective review of a prospective cohort of patients who underwent initial resection of CP using the endoscopic endonasal approach over a period of 12 years at Weill Cornell Medical College, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, was performed. Postresection integrity of the stalk was retrospectively assessed using operative notes, videos, and postoperative MRI. Tumors were classified based on location into type I (sellar), type II (sellar-suprasellar), and type III (purely suprasellar). Pre- and postoperative endocrine function, tumor location, body mass index, rate of GTR, radiation therapy, and complications were reviewed.

RESULTS

A total of 54 patients who had undergone endoscopic endonasal procedures for first-time resection of CP were identified. The stalk was preserved in 33 (61%) and sacrificed in 21 (39%) patients. GTR was achieved in 24 patients (73%) with stalk preservation and 21 patients (100%) with stalk sacrifice (p = 0.007). Stalk-preservation surgery achieved GTR and maintained completely normal pituitary function in only 4 (12%) of 33 patients. Permanent postoperative diabetes insipidus was present in 16 patients (49%) with stalk preservation and in 20 patients (95%) following stalk sacrifice (p = 0.002). In the stalk-preservation group, rates of progression and radiation were higher with intentional subtotal resection or near-total resection compared to GTR (67% vs 0%, p < 0.001, and 100% vs 12.5%, p < 0.001, respectively). However, for the subgroup of patients in whom GTR was achieved, stalk preservation did not lead to significantly higher rates of recurrence (12.5%) compared with those in whom it was sacrificed (5%, p = 0.61), and stalk preservation prevented anterior pituitary insufficiency in 33% and diabetes insipidus in 50%.

CONCLUSIONS

While the decision to preserve the stalk reduces the rate of postoperative endocrinopathy by roughly 50%, nevertheless significant dysfunction of the anterior and posterior pituitary often ensues. The decision to preserve the stalk does not guarantee preserved endocrine function and comes with a higher risk of progression and need for adjuvant therapy. Nevertheless, to reduce postoperative endocrinopathy attempts should be made to preserve the stalk if GTR can be achieved.

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Jonathan P. S. Knisely, Rohan Ramakrishna and Theodore H. Schwartz

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Alhusain Nagm, Toshihiro Ogiwara, Takeo Goto, Kazuhiro Hongo and Kenji Ohata

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Jonathan P. S. Knisely, Rohan Ramakrishna and Theodore H. Schwartz

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Jonathan A. Forbes, Matei Banu, Kurt Lehner, Malte Ottenhausen, Emanuele La Corte, Andrew F. Alalade, Edgar G. Ordóñez-Rubiano, Jeffrey P. Greenfield, Vijay K. Anand and Theodore H. Schwartz

OBJECTIVE

Epidermoid cysts (ECs) commonly extend to involve the ventral cisterns of the cranial base. When present, symptoms arise due to progressive mass effect on the brainstem and adjacent cranial nerves. Historically, a variety of open microsurgical approaches have been used for resection of ECs in this intricate region. In recent years, the endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) has been proposed as an alternative corridor that avoids crossing the plane of the cranial nerves. To date, there is a paucity of data in the literature regarding the safety and efficacy of the EEA in the treatment of ECs of the ventral cranial base.

METHODS

The authors reviewed a prospectively acquired database of EEAs for resection of ECs over 8 years at Weill Cornell, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. All procedures were performed by the senior authors. Standardized clinical and radiological parameters were assessed before and after surgery. Statistical tests were used to determine the impact of previous surgery and tumor volume on extent of resection and recurrence as well as the method of closure on rate of CSF leak.

RESULTS

Between January 2009 and February 2017, 7 patients (4 males and 3 females; age range 16–70 years) underwent a total of 8 surgeries for EC resection utilizing the EEA. Transplanum and transclival extensions were performed in 3 and 5 patients, respectively. Methods of closure incorporated a gasket seal in 6 of 8 procedures and a nasoseptal flap in 7 of 8 procedures. Gross-total resection (GTR) was achieved in 43% of patients, and near-total resection (> 95%) was obtained in another 43%. Complications included diabetes insipidus (n = 2), postoperative CSF leak (n = 2), transient third cranial nerve palsy (n = 1), and epistaxis (n = 1). With a mean follow-up of 43.5 months, recurrence has been observed in 2 of 7 patients. In 1 case, reoperation for recurrence was required 71 months following the initial surgery. Use of the gasket-seal technique with nasoseptal flap coverage significantly correlated with the absence of postoperative CSF leakage (p = 0.018). GTR was achieved in 25% of the patients who had prior surgeries and in 50% of patients without previous resections. The mean volume of cysts in which GTR was achieved (4.3 ± 1.8 cm3) was smaller than that in which subtotal or near-total resection was achieved (12.2 ± 11 cm3, p = 0.134).

CONCLUSIONS

The EEA for resection of ECs of the ventral cranial base is a safe and effective operative strategy that avoids crossing the plane of the cranial nerves. In the authors’ experience, gasket-seal closure with nasoseptal flap coverage has been associated with a decreased risk of postoperative CSF leakage.

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João Paulo Almeida, Sacit B. Omay, Sathwik R. Shetty, Yu-Ning Chen, Armando S. Ruiz-Treviño, Buqing Liang, Vijay K. Anand, Benjamin Levine and Theodore H. Schwartz

Sphenoorbital meningiomas (SOMs) are slow-growing tumors that originate from the sphenoidal wing and are associated with visual deterioration, extrinsic ocular movement disorders, and proptosis caused by hyperostosis of the lateral wall of the orbit. In some cases, the intracranial component is quite small or “en plaque,” and the majority of the symptoms arise from adjacent hyperostosis. Craniotomy has traditionally been the standard of care, but new minimally invasive multiportal endoscopic approaches offer an alternative. In the current study, the authors to present their experience with the transorbital endoscopic eyelid approach for the treatment of 2 patients with SOMs and sphenoid wing hyperostosis.

Clinical and radiological data for patients with SOMs who underwent a transorbital endoscopic eyelid approach were retrospectively reviewed. Surgical technique and clinical and radiographic outcomes were analyzed.

The authors report the cases of 2 patients with SOMs and proptosis due to sphenoid wing hyperostosis. One patient underwent prior craniotomy to debulk the intracranial portion of the tumor, and the other had a minimal intracranial component. Both patients were discharged 2 days after surgery. MR images and CT scans demonstrated a large debulking of the hyperostotic bone. Postoperative measurement of the proptosis with the aid of an exophthalmometer demonstrated significant reduction of the proptosis in one of the cases. Persistence of intraconal tumor in the orbital apex limited the efficacy of the procedure in the other case. A review of the literature revealed 1 publication with 3 reports of the transorbital eyelid approach for SOMs. No measure of relief of proptosis after this surgery had been previously reported.

The transorbital endoscopic approach, combined with endonasal decompression of the medial orbit, may be a useful minimally invasive alternative to craniotomy in a subset of SOMs with a predominantly hyperostotic orbital wall and minimal intracranial bulky or merely en plaque disease. In these cases, relief of proptosis and optic nerve compression are the primary goals of surgery, rather than gross-total resection, which may have high morbidity or be unachievable. In cases with significant residual intraconal tumor, orbital bone removal alone may not be sufficient to reduce proptosis.