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  • Author or Editor: Rudolf Fahlbusch x
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Hussam Metwali, Venelin Gerganov and Rudolf Fahlbusch


Preservation of the pituitary stalk and its vasculature is a key step in good postoperative endocrinological outcome in patients with craniopharyngiomas. In this article, the authors describe the surgical technique of medial optic nerve mobilization for better inspection and preservation of the pituitary stalk.


This operative technique has been applied in 3 patients. Following tumor exposure via a frontolateral approach, the pituitary stalk could be seen partially hidden under the optic nerve and the optic chiasm. The subchiasmatic and opticocarotid spaces were narrow, and tumor dissection from the pituitary stalk under direct vision was not possible. The optic canal was therefore unroofed, the falciform ligament was incised, and the lateral part of the tuberculum sellae was drilled medial to the optic nerve. The optic nerve could be mobilized medially to widen the opticocarotid triangle, which enhanced visualization of and access to the pituitary stalk.


By using the optic nerve mobilization technique, the tumor could be removed completely, and the pituitary stalk and its vasculature were preserved in all patients. In 2 patients, vision improved after surgery, while in 1 patient it remained normal, as it was before surgery. The hormonal status remained normal after surgery in 2 patients. In the patient with preoperative hormonal deficiencies, improvement occurred early after surgery and hormonal levels were normal after 3 months. No approach-related complications occurred.


This early experience shows that this technique is safe and could be used as a complementary step during microsurgery of craniopharyngiomas. It allows for tumor dissection from the pituitary stalk under direct vision. The pituitary stalk can thus be preserved without jeopardizing the optic nerve.

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Hussam Metwali, Mario Giordano, Katja Kniese and Rudolf Fahlbusch


The aim of this study was to test the prognostic significance of intraoperative changes in the fractional anisotropy (FA) and the volume of the optic chiasma and their correlation with visual outcome.


Twenty-eight sequential patients with suprasellar tumors presenting with chiasma compression syndrome were surgically treated under intraoperative MRI control between March 2014 and July 2016. The FA and the volume of the optic chiasma were measured immediately before and immediately after tumor resection. The visual impairment score (VIS) was used to quantify the severity of the ophthalmological disturbances before surgery, 10–14 days after surgery, and again 3 months thereafter. The change in the FA and the volume of the optic chiasma was correlated to the improvement of vision. The correlation between other predictors such as the age of the patients and the duration of symptoms and the visual outcome was tested.


The VIS improved significantly after surgery. The FA values of the optic chiasma decreased significantly after decompression, whereas the volume of the optic chiasma increased significantly after decompression. The early and delayed improvement of vision was strongly correlated to the decrease in the average FA and the increase of the volume of the optic chiasma. The duration of symptoms showed a significant negative correlation to the visual outcome. However, the decrease in the FA showed the strongest correlation to the improvement of the VIS, followed by the expansion of the optic chiasma, and then the duration of symptoms.


The decrease in the FA and the expansion of the optic chiasma after its decompression are strong early predictors of the visual outcome. These parameters are also able to predict delayed improvement of vision.

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Venelin Gerganov, Hussam Metwali, Amir Samii, Rudolf Fahlbusch and Madjid Samii


An extensive craniopharyngioma is a tumor that extends into multiple compartments (subarachnoid spaces) and attains a size larger than 4 cm. A wide spectrum of approaches and strategies has been used for resection of such craniopharyngiomas. In this report the authors focused on the feasibility and efficacy of microsurgical resection of extensive craniopharyngiomas using a frontolateral approach.


A retrospective analysis was performed on 16 patients with extensive craniopharyngiomas who underwent operations using a frontolateral approach at one institution. The preoperative and postoperative clinical and radiological data, as well as the operative videos, were reviewed. The main focus of the review was the extent of radical tumor removal, early postoperative outcome, and approach-related complications.


Gross-total resection of craniopharyngioma was achieved in 14 (87.5%) of 16 cases. Early after surgery (within 3 months), 1 patient showed improvement in hormonal status, while in the remaining 15 patients it worsened. No major neurological morbidity was observed. Two patients experienced temporary psychotic disorders. Visual function improved in 6 patients and remained unchanged in 9. One patient experienced a new bitemporal hemianopsia. Three patients with features of short-term memory disturbances at presentation did show improvement after surgery. There were no deaths or significant approach-related morbidity in this patient series. Only 1 patient required revision surgery for a CSF leak.


The safe and simple frontolateral approach provides adequate access even to extensive craniopharyngiomas and enables their complete removal with a reasonable morbidity and approach-related complication rate.