Epidermoid cysts of the cavernous sinus (CS) are rare, and no large case series of these lesions has been reported. In this study, the authors retrospectively reviewed the outcomes of the surgical management of CS epidermoid cysts undertaken at their center and performed a review of any such cysts reported in the literature over the past 40 years.
Clinical data were obtained on 31 patients with CS epidermoid cysts that had been surgically treated at the authors’ hospital between 2001 and 2016. The patients’ medical records, imaging data, and follow-up outcomes were retrospectively analyzed. The related literature from the past 40 years (18 articles, 20 patients) was also evaluated.
The most common chief complaints were facial numbness or hypesthesia (64.5%), absent corneal reflex (45.2%), and abducens or oculomotor nerve deficit (35.5%). On MRI, 51.6% of the epidermoid cysts showed low T1 signals and equal or high T2 signals. In the other lesions, the radiological findings varied considerably given differences in the composition of the cysts. Surgery was performed via the extradural approach (58.1%), intradural approach (32.3%), or a combined approach (9.7%). After the operation, symptoms remained similar or improved in 90.3% of patients and new oculomotor paralysis developed after the operation in 9.7% of patients. Seven patients (22.6%) developed meningitis postoperatively (5 aseptic and 2 septic), and all of them recovered. All patients achieved good recovery before discharge (Karnofsky Performance Status score ≥ 70). Over an average follow-up of 4.6 ± 3.0 years in 25 patients (80.6%), no recurrence or reoperation occurred, regardless of whether total or subtotal resection of the capsule had been achieved.
Both the extradural and intradural approaches can enable satisfactory lesion resection. A favorable prognosis and symptomatic improvement can be expected after both total and subtotal capsule resections. Total capsule resection is encouraged to minimize the possibility of recurrence provided that the resection can be safely performed.