The expanded endoscopic approach to craniopharyngiomas has recently been described in several small case series. The authors present their experience with this technique and review the available literature.
Between September 2006 and September 2009, 14 patients underwent a purely endoscopic, endonasal approach for resection of newly diagnosed craniopharyngiomas. These procedures represent index surgeries; no patient had undergone previous tumor resection. A retrospective review of endocrinological and ophthalmological outcomes, extent of resection, and complication prevalence was completed. Additionally, a review of the English literature was performed to evaluate outcomes of similar endoscopic techniques for resection of craniopharyngiomas.
Four patients (28.6%) underwent gross-total resection; near total resection or better was achieved in 9 patients (64.3%). All patients presented with some form of visual field or acuity deficit. Postoperatively, 12 patients (85.7%) experienced visual improvement, with 6 patients (42.9%) having complete visual recovery. One patient experienced worsening of her visual deficit. Visual acuity improved in 8 patients ((57.1%), while visual field defects improved in 11 (78.6%). The pituitary stalk was preserved in all cases. Eight (57.1%) of 14 patients experienced some form of anterior pituitary dysfunction postoperatively. Although 9 patients (64.3%) were documented to have either transient or permanent new diabetes insipidus immediately after surgery, at 1-month follow-up only 1 patient met clinical criteria. Five patients (35.7%) developed CSF leaks that were successfully treated by subsequent endoscopic revision. All CSF leaks occurred early in the series. Two patients (14.2%) were treated for presumed meningitis postoperatively.
The endoscopic endonasal approach is a minimally invasive alternative to open transcranial approaches for select craniopharyngiomas. Similar to previous transcranial series, rates of endocrinopathy and gross-total resection were dependent upon the adherence of the tumor capsule to the hypothalamus, pituitary stalk, and associated vasculature. A review of the literature suggests that the results of the current series are similar to other published series on this topic.