The goal of this study was to report on the surgical management of skull base chordomas and to evaluate both the short- and long-term treatment outcomes.
The authors retrospectively studied data from 49 patients who had undergone consecutive surgeries at a single institution. They also analyzed patterns of chordoma extension. Complications and surgery-related morbidity were recorded. A Kaplan–Meier analysis was performed to determine survival rates in patients 5 and 10 years after their first surgery. Operative approaches were selected on the basis of the predominant tumor extension.
The approach used most frequently was the transethmoidal in 36.3%, followed by the pterional in 23.4% and the retrosigmoid in 23.4%. The tumor was totally removed in 49.4% and subtotally in 50.6%. The rate of total removal was highest at initial surgery (78%) and progressively declined thereafter. In 11.8% of cases a new neurological deficit developed, while the preoperative deficit remained unchanged. In 20% of cases the preoperative deficits improved, but new deficits also appeared. The 5- and 10-year survival rates are 65 and 39%, respectively.
With an individually tailored surgical approach, total tumor removal in 78% of the cases was achieved at the initial surgery. Radical surgery appears to increase slightly the surgical morbidity, but at the same time prolongs the recurrence-free interval. Chordomas cannot be regarded as surgically curable tumors given the 5- and 10-year survival rates in patients harboring such lesions.