Due to the proximity of craniopharyngioma to the optic apparatus, one of the most common complications after surgery is visual deterioration. Intraoperative visual evoked potential (VEP), as a means of real-time visual function monitoring, has been integrated into transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary adenoma to predict postoperative visual outcome. Compared with pituitary tumor, craniopharyngioma often adheres to optic nerves, with increased risk of postoperative visual impairment. Furthermore, extended endoscopic endonasal surgery (EEES) can provide direct visualization of the surgical plane between the craniopharyngioma and the optic nerves, which contributes to analysis of the mechanism of real-time VEP changes during surgery. Therefore, VEP monitoring applied during EEES for craniopharyngioma may have more clinical value. However, only 9 patients who underwent EEES with VEP monitoring for craniopharyngioma have been sporadically reported to date. In this paper, the authors present the largest series to date analyzing the clinical value of VEP to predict postoperative visual outcome in adult patients with craniopharyngioma.
Sixty-five adult patients who underwent EEES with intraoperative VEP monitoring for primary craniopharyngioma were retrospectively reviewed. The association between changes in VEP amplitude and postoperative visual outcome was determined. In addition, other potential prognostic factors with regard to postoperative visual outcomes were included in the analysis.
Gross-total resection was achieved in 59 patients (90.8%). Reproducible and stable VEP was recorded in 128 of 130 eyes (98.5%). During surgery, VEP remained stable in 108 eyes, 10 (9.3%) of which had new visual acuity (VA) and/or visual field (VF) defects after surgery. Transient VEP decrease was recorded in 15 eyes, 4 (26.7%) of which had visual deterioration. Of the 5 eyes with permanent VEP decrease, 3 (60%) experienced postoperative visual impairment. Permanent VEP decrease (OR 19.868, p = 0.007) and tight adhesion (OR 6.104, p = 0.040) were independent adverse factors for postoperative VA deterioration. Tight adhesion (OR 7.150, p = 0.002) and larger tumor volume (OR 1.066, p = 0.001) were significant risk factors for postoperative VF defects.
Intraoperative VEP monitoring can serve as a real-time warning to guide surgeons to avoid postoperative visual impairment. It effectively predicted VA changes in adult patients with craniopharyngioma after EEES. Tight adhesion and larger tumor volume were also strong predictors of postoperative visual impairment.