Are cavernous sinus hemangiomas and cavernous malformations different entities?

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  • Divisions of Neurological Surgery and Neuropathology, Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, Arizona
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✓Cavernous hemangiomas that occur within the cavernous sinus (CS) are different from cerebral cavernous malformations (CMs) clinically, on imaging studies, and in their response to treatment. Moreover, CMs are true vascular malformations, whereas hemangiomas are benign vascular tumors. Because of these differences, the authors suggest that these two entities be analyzed and grouped separately. Unfortunately, despite these differences, much confusion exists in the literature as to the nature, behavior, and classification of these two distinct lesions. This confusion is exacerbated by subtle histological differences and the inconsistent use of nomenclature. The authors use the term “cavernous malformation” to refer to intraaxial lesions only; they prefer to use the term “cavernous sinus hemangioma” to refer to extraaxial, intradural hemangiomas of the CS.

Abbreviations used in this paper:

CM = cavernous malformation; CNS = central nervous system; CS = cavernous sinus; MR = magnetic resonance.

✓Cavernous hemangiomas that occur within the cavernous sinus (CS) are different from cerebral cavernous malformations (CMs) clinically, on imaging studies, and in their response to treatment. Moreover, CMs are true vascular malformations, whereas hemangiomas are benign vascular tumors. Because of these differences, the authors suggest that these two entities be analyzed and grouped separately. Unfortunately, despite these differences, much confusion exists in the literature as to the nature, behavior, and classification of these two distinct lesions. This confusion is exacerbated by subtle histological differences and the inconsistent use of nomenclature. The authors use the term “cavernous malformation” to refer to intraaxial lesions only; they prefer to use the term “cavernous sinus hemangioma” to refer to extraaxial, intradural hemangiomas of the CS.

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