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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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Evan D. Bander, Harminder Singh, Colin B. Ogilvie, Ryan C. Cusic, David J. Pisapia, Apostolos John Tsiouris, Vijay K. Anand, and Theodore H. Schwartz

OBJECTIVE

Planum sphenoidale (PS) and tuberculum sellae (TS) meningiomas cause visual symptoms due to compression of the optic chiasm. The treatment of choice is surgical removal with the goal of improving vision and achieving complete tumor removal. Two options exist to remove these tumors: the transcranial approach (TCA) and the endonasal endoscopic approach (EEA). Significant controversy exists regarding which approach provides the best results and whether there is a subset of patients for whom an EEA may be more suitable. Comparisons using a similar cohort of patients, namely, those suitable for gross-total resection with EEA, are lacking from the literature.

METHODS

The authors reviewed all cases of PS and TS meningiomas that were surgically removed at Weill Cornell Medical College between 2000 and 2015 (TCA) and 2008 and 2015 (EEA). All cases were shown to a panel of 3 neurosurgeons to find only those tumors that could be removed equally well either through an EEA or TCA to standardize both groups. Volumetric measurements of preoperative and postoperative tumor size, FLAIR images, and apparent diffusion coefficient maps were assessed by 2 independent reviewers and compared to assess extent of resection and trauma to the surrounding brain. Visual outcome and complications were also compared.

RESULTS

Thirty-two patients were identified who underwent either EEA (n = 17) or TCA (n = 15). The preoperative tumor size was comparable (mean 5.58 ± 3.42 vs 5.04 ± 3.38 cm3 [± SD], p = 0.661). The average extent of resection achieved was not significantly different between the 2 groups (98.80% ± 3.32% vs 95.13% ± 11.69%, p = 0.206). Postoperatively, the TCA group demonstrated a significant increase in the FLAIR/edema signal compared with EEA patients (4.15 ± 7.10 vs −0.69 ± 2.73 cm3, p = 0.014). In addition, the postoperative diffusion-weighted imaging signal of cytotoxic ischemic damage was significantly higher in the TCA group than in the EEA group (1.88 ± 1.96 vs 0.40 ± 0.55 cm3, p =0.008). Overall, significantly more EEA patients experienced improved or stable visual outcomes compared with TCA patients (93% vs 56%, p = 0.049). Visual deterioration was greater after TCA than EEA (44% vs 0%, p = 0.012). While more patients experienced postoperative seizures after TCA than after EEA (27% vs 0%, p = 0.038), there was a trend toward more CSF leakage and anosmia after EEA than after TCA (11.8% vs 0%, p = 0.486 and 11.8% vs 0%, p = 0.118, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

In this small single-institution study of similarly sized and located PS and TS meningiomas, EEA provided equivalent rates of resection with better visual results, less trauma to the brain, and fewer seizures. These preliminary results merit further investigation in a larger multiinstitutional study and may support EEA resection by experienced surgeons in a subset of carefully selected PS and TS meningiomas.

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Alexander Micko, Benjamin I. Rapoport, Brett E. Youngerman, Reginald P. Fong, Jennifer Kosty, Andrew Brunswick, Shane Shahrestani, Gabriel Zada, and Theodore H. Schwartz

OBJECTIVE

Incomplete resection of skull base pathology may result in local tumor recurrence. This study investigates the utility of 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) fluorescence during endoscopic endonasal approaches (EEAs) to increase visibility of pathologic tissue.

METHODS

This retrospective multicenter series comprises patients with planned resection of an anterior skull base lesion who received preoperative 5-ALA at two tertiary care centers. Diagnostic use of a blue light endoscope was performed during EEA for all cases. Demographic and tumor characteristics as well as fluorescence status, quality, and homogeneity were assessed for each skull base pathology.

RESULTS

Twenty-eight skull base pathologies underwent blue-light EEA with preoperative 5-ALA, including 15 pituitary adenomas (54%), 4 meningiomas (14%), 3 craniopharyngiomas (11%), 2 Rathke’s cleft cysts (7%), as well as plasmacytoma, esthesioneuroblastoma, and sinonasal squamous cell carcinoma. Of these, 6 (21%) of 28 showed invasive growth into surrounding structures such as dura, bone, or compartments of the cavernous sinus. Tumor fluorescence was detected in 2 cases (7%), with strong fluorescence in 1 tuberculum sellae meningioma and vague fluorescence in 1 pituicytoma. In all other cases fluorescence was absent. Faint fluorescence of the normal pituitary gland was seen in 1 (7%) of 15 cases. A comparison between the particular tumor entities as well as a correlation between invasiveness, WHO grade, Ki-67, and positive fluorescence did not show any significant association.

CONCLUSIONS

With the possible exception of meningiomas, 5-ALA fluorescence has limited utility in the majority of endonasal skull base surgeries, although other pathology may be worth investigating.

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Malte Ottenhausen, Kavelin Rumalla, Andrew F. Alalade, Prakash Nair, Emanuele La Corte, Iyan Younus, Jonathan A. Forbes, Atef Ben Nsir, Matei A. Banu, Apostolos John Tsiouris, and Theodore H. Schwartz

OBJECTIVE

Anterior skull base meningiomas are benign lesions that cause neurological symptoms through mass effect on adjacent neurovascular structures. While traditional transcranial approaches have proven to be effective at removing these tumors, minimally invasive approaches that involve using an endoscope offer the possibility of reducing brain and nerve retraction, minimizing incision size, and speeding patient recovery; however, appropriate case selection and results in large series are lacking.

METHODS

The authors developed an algorithm for selecting a supraorbital keyhole minicraniotomy (SKM) for olfactory groove meningiomas or an expanded endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) for tuberculum sella (TS) or planum sphenoidale (PS) meningiomas based on the presence or absence of olfaction and the anatomical extent of the tumor. Where neither approach is appropriate, a standard transcranial approach is utilized. The authors describe rates of gross-total resection (GTR), olfactory outcomes, and visual outcomes, as well as complications, for 7 subgroups of patients. Exceptions to the algorithm are also discussed.

RESULTS

The series of 57 patients harbored 57 anterior skull base meningiomas; the mean tumor volume was 14.7 ± 15.4 cm3 (range 2.2–66.1 cm3), and the mean follow-up duration was 42.2 ± 37.1 months (range 2–144 months). Of 19 patients with olfactory groove meningiomas, 10 had preserved olfaction and underwent SKM, and preservation of olfaction in was seen in 60%. Of 9 patients who presented without olfaction, 8 had cribriform plate invasion and underwent combined SKM and EEA (n = 3), bifrontal craniotomy (n = 3), or EEA (n = 2), and one patient without both olfaction and cribriform plate invasion underwent SKM. GTR was achieved in 94.7%. Of 38 TS/PS meningiomas, 36 of the lesions were treated according to the algorithm. Of these 36 meningiomas, 30 were treated by EEA and 6 by craniotomy. GTR was achieved in 97.2%, with no visual deterioration and one CSF leak that resolved by placement of a lumbar drain. Two patients with tumors that, based on the algorithm, were not amenable to an EEA underwent EEA nonetheless: one had GTR and the other had a residual tumor that was followed and removed via craniotomy 9 years later.

CONCLUSIONS

Utilizing a simple algorithm aimed at preserving olfaction and vision and based on maximizing use of minimally invasive approaches and selective use of transcranial approaches, the authors found that excellent outcomes can be achieved for anterior skull base meningiomas.

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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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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.

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Alexander Micko, Benjamin I. Rapoport, Brett E. Youngerman, Reginald P. Fong, Jennifer Kosty, Andrew Brunswick, Shane Shahrestani, Gabriel Zada, and Theodore H. Schwartz

OBJECTIVE

Incomplete resection of skull base pathology may result in local tumor recurrence. This study investigates the utility of 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) fluorescence during endoscopic endonasal approaches (EEAs) to increase visibility of pathologic tissue.

METHODS

This retrospective multicenter series comprises patients with planned resection of an anterior skull base lesion who received preoperative 5-ALA at two tertiary care centers. Diagnostic use of a blue light endoscope was performed during EEA for all cases. Demographic and tumor characteristics as well as fluorescence status, quality, and homogeneity were assessed for each skull base pathology.

RESULTS

Twenty-eight skull base pathologies underwent blue-light EEA with preoperative 5-ALA, including 15 pituitary adenomas (54%), 4 meningiomas (14%), 3 craniopharyngiomas (11%), 2 Rathke’s cleft cysts (7%), as well as plasmacytoma, esthesioneuroblastoma, and sinonasal squamous cell carcinoma. Of these, 6 (21%) of 28 showed invasive growth into surrounding structures such as dura, bone, or compartments of the cavernous sinus. Tumor fluorescence was detected in 2 cases (7%), with strong fluorescence in 1 tuberculum sellae meningioma and vague fluorescence in 1 pituicytoma. In all other cases fluorescence was absent. Faint fluorescence of the normal pituitary gland was seen in 1 (7%) of 15 cases. A comparison between the particular tumor entities as well as a correlation between invasiveness, WHO grade, Ki-67, and positive fluorescence did not show any significant association.

CONCLUSIONS

With the possible exception of meningiomas, 5-ALA fluorescence has limited utility in the majority of endonasal skull base surgeries, although other pathology may be worth investigating.

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Iyan Younus, Mina M. Gerges, Rafael Uribe-Cardenas, Peter F. Morgenstern, Mahmoud Eljalby, Abtin Tabaee, Jeffrey P. Greenfield, Ashutosh Kacker, Vijay K. Anand, and Theodore H. Schwartz

OBJECTIVE

Endoscopic endonasal approaches (EEAs) to the skull base have evolved over the last 20 years to become an essential component of a comprehensive skull base practice. Many case series show a learning curve from the earliest cases, in which the authors were inexperienced or were not using advanced closure techniques. It is generally accepted that once this learning curve is achieved, a plateau is reached with little incremental improvement. Cases performed during the early steep learning curve were eliminated to examine whether the continued improvement exists over the “tail end” of the curve.

METHODS

A prospectively acquired database of all EEA cases performed by the senior authors at Weill Cornell Medicine/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital was reviewed. The first 200 cases were eliminated and the next 1000 consecutive cases were examined to avoid the bias created by the early learning curve.

RESULTS

Of the 1000 cases, the most common pathologies included pituitary adenoma (51%), meningoencephalocele or CSF leak repair (8.6%), meningioma (8.4%), craniopharyngioma (7.3%), basilar invagination (3.1%), Rathke’s cleft cyst (2.8%), and chordoma (2.4%). Use of lumbar drains decreased from the first half to the second half of our series (p <0.05) as did the authors’ use of fat alone (p <0.005) or gasket alone (p <0.005) for dural closure, while the use of a nasoseptal flap increased (p <0.005). Although mean tumor diameter was constant (on average), gross-total resection (GTR) increased from 60% in the first half to 73% in the second half (p <0.005). GTR increased for all pathologies but most significantly for chordoma (56% vs 100%, p <0.05), craniopharyngioma (47% vs 0.71%, p <0.05) and pituitary adenoma (67% vs 75%, p <0.05). Hormonal cure for secreting adenomas also increased from 83% in the first half to 89% in the second half (p <0.05). The rate of any complication was unchanged at 6.4% in the first half and 6.2% in the latter half of cases, and vascular injury occurred in only 0.6% of cases. Postoperative CSF leak occurred in 2% of cases and was unchanged between the first and second half of the series.

CONCLUSIONS

This study demonstrates that contrary to popular belief, the surgical learning curve does not plateau but can continue for several years depending on the complexity of the endpoints considered. These findings may have implications for clinical trial design, surgical education, and patient safety measures.

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Matei A. Banu, Oszkar Szentirmai, Lino Mascarenhas, Al Amin Salek, Vijay K. Anand, and Theodore H. Schwartz

Object

Postoperative pneumocephalus is a common occurrence after endoscopic endonasal skull base surgery (ESBS). The risk of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks can be high and the presence of postoperative pneumocephalus associated with serosanguineous nasal drainage may raise suspicion for a CSF leak. The authors hypothesized that specific patterns of pneumocephalus on postoperative imaging could be predictive of CSF leaks. Identification of these patterns could guide the postoperative management of patients undergoing ESBS.

Methods

The authors queried a prospectively acquired database of 526 consecutive ESBS cases at a single center between December 1, 2003, and May 31, 2012, and identified 258 patients with an intraoperative CSF leak documented using intrathecal fluorescein. Postoperative CT and MRI scans obtained within 1–10 days were examined and pneumocephalus was graded based on location and amount. A discrete 0–4 scale was used to classify pneumocephalus patterns based on size and morphology. Pneumocephalus was correlated with the surgical approach, histopathological diagnosis, and presence of a postoperative CSF leak.

Results

The mean follow-up duration was 56.7 months. Of the 258 patients, 102 (39.5%) demonstrated pneumocephalus on postoperative imaging. The most frequent location of pneumocephalus was frontal (73 [71.5%] of 102), intraventricular (34 [33.3%]), and convexity (22 [21.6%]). Patients with craniopharyngioma (27 [87%] of 31) and meningioma (23 [68%] of 34) had the highest incidence of postoperative pneumocephalus compared with patients with pituitary adenomas (29 [20.6%] of 141) (p < 0.0001). The incidence of pneumocephalus was higher with transcribriform and transethmoidal approaches (8 of [73%] 11) than with a transsellar approach (9 of [7%] 131). There were 15 (5.8%) of 258 cases of postoperative CSF leak, of which 10 (66.7%) had pneumocephalus, compared with 92 (38%) of 243 patients without a postoperative CSF leak (OR 3.3, p = 0.027). Pneumocephalus located in the convexity, interhemispheric fissure, sellar region, parasellar region, and perimesencephalic region was significantly correlated with a postoperative CSF leak (OR 4.9, p = 0.006) and was therefore termed “suspicious” pneumocephalus. In contrast, frontal or intraventricular pneumocephalus was not correlated with postoperative CSF leak (not significant) and was defined as “benign” pneumocephalus. The amount of convexity pneumocephalus (p = 0.002), interhemispheric pneumocephalus (p = 0.005), and parasellar pneumocephalus (p = 0.007) (determined using a scale score of 0–4) was also significantly related to postoperative CSF leaks. Using a series of permutation-based multivariate analyses, the authors established that a model containing the learning curve, the transclival/transcavernous approach, and the presence of “suspicious” pneumocephalus provides the best overall prediction for postoperative CSF leaks.

Conclusions

Postoperative pneumocephalus is much more common following extended approaches than following transsellar surgery. Merely the presence of pneumocephalus, particularly in the frontal or intraventricular locations, is not necessarily associated with a postoperative CSF leak. A “suspicious” pattern of air, namely pneumocephalus in the convexity, interhemispheric fissure, sella, parasellar, or perimesencephalic locations, is significantly associated with a postoperative CSF leak. The presence and the score of “suspicious” pneumocephalus on postoperative imaging, in conjunction with the learning curve and the type of endoscopic approach, provide the best predictive model for postoperative CSF leaks.

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A. Gabriella Wernicke, Andrew W. Smith, Shoshana Taube, Menachem Z. Yondorf, Bhupesh Parashar, Samuel Trichter, Lucy Nedialkova, Albert Sabbas, Paul Christos, Rohan Ramakrishna, Susan C. Pannullo, Philip E. Stieg, and Theodore H. Schwartz

OBJECTIVE

Managing patients whose intraparenchymal brain metastases recur after radiotherapy remains a challenge. Intraoperative cesium-131 (Cs-131) brachytherapy performed at the time of neurosurgical resection may represent an excellent salvage treatment option. The authors evaluated the outcomes of this novel treatment with permanent intraoperative Cs-131 brachytherapy.

METHODS

Thirteen patients with 15 metastases to the brain that recurred after stereotactic radiosurgery and/or whole brain radiotherapy were treated between 2010 and 2015. Stranded Cs-131 seeds were placed as a permanent volume implant. Prescription dose was 80 Gy at 5-mm depth from the resection cavity surface. The primary end point was resection cavity freedom from progression (FFP). Resection cavity freedom from progression (FFP), regional FFP, distant FFP, median survival, overall survival (OS), and toxicity were assessed.

RESULTS

The median duration of follow-up after salvage treatment was 5 months (range 0.5–18 months). The patients' median age was 64 years (range 51–74 years). The median resected tumor diameter was 2.9 cm (range 1.0–5.6 cm). The median number of seeds implanted was 19 (range 10–40), with a median activity per seed of 2.25 U (range 1.98–3.01 U) and median total activity of 39.6 U (range 20.0–95.2 U). The 1-year actuarial local FFP was 83.3%. The median OS was 7 months, and 1-year OS was 24.7%. Complications included infection (3), pseudomeningocele (1), seizure (1), and asymptomatic radionecrosis (RN) (1).

CONCLUSIONS

After failure of prior irradiation of brain metastases, re-irradiation with intraoperative Cs-131 brachytherapy implants provides durable local control and limits the risk of RN. The authors' initial experience demonstrates that this treatment approach is well tolerated and safe for patients with previously irradiated tumors after failure of more than 1 radiotherapy regimen and that it results in excellent response rates and minimal toxicity.