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Todd McCall, Jeroen Coppens, William Couldwell and Andrew Dailey

A paracondylar process is a bony exostosis that arises from the skull base lateral to the occipital condyle and extends inferiorly toward the transverse process of the atlas. This congenital anomaly can vary in size from a small protuberance to an elongated process articulating with an epitransverse process arising from C-1. Typically, a paracondylar process is an incidental finding described in anatomical studies. The authors report on a patient with a symptomatic paracondylar process articulating with an epitransverse process that caused occipitocervical pain. Resection of the paracondylar and epitransverse processes completely relieved the patient's pain.

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Indro Chakrabarti, Arun P. Amar, William Couldwell and Martin H. Weiss

Object. The authors report on a cohort of patients with craniopharyngioma treated principally through transnasal (TN) resection and followed up for a minimum of 5 years. More specifically, they evaluate the role of the TN approach in the management of craniopharyngioma.

Methods. Between 1984 and 1994, 68 patients underwent TN resection of craniopharyngiomas at the University of Southern California. The tumor was at least partially cystic in 88% of cases. Four tumors were purely intrasellar, 53 had intra- and suprasellar components, and 11 were exclusively suprasellar. During the same period, 18 patients underwent transcranial (TC) resection of purely suprasellar craniopharyngiomas. Long-term neurological, visual, and endocrine outcomes were reviewed for all patients.

In 61 (90%) of 68 patients in the TN group, total resection was achieved, according to 3-month postoperative magnetic resonance images, although four patients suffered a recurrence. Three (43%) of the seven tumors that had been partially resected were enlarged on serial imaging. Fifty-four (87%) of 62 patients with preoperative visual loss experienced improvement in one or both eyes, but two patients (3%) with exclusively suprasellar tumors experienced postoperative visual worsening in one or both eyes. New instances of postoperative endocrinopathy (that is, not present preoperatively) occurred as follows: hypogonadism (eight of 22 cases), growth hormone (GH) deficiency (four of 18 cases), hypothyroidism (11 of 49 cases), hypocortisolemia (nine of 52 cases), and diabetes insipidus (DI; four of 61 cases). One case each of hypocortisolemia and hypothyroidism resolved after surgery. Hyperphagia occurred in 27 (40%) of 68 patients. One patient had short-term memory loss. Postoperative complications included one case of cerebrospinal fluid leak.

Among the 18 patients in the TC group, 11 had complete resections. In one case (9%) the tumors recurred. Three (43%) of the seven subtotally resected tumors grew during the follow-up interval. Vision improved in 11 (61%) of 18 cases and worsened in three (17%) as a result of surgery. New instances of postoperative endocrinopathy occurred as follows: hypogonadism (one of six cases), GH deficiency (four of seven cases), hypothyroidism (11 of 14 cases), hypocortisolemia (eight of 15 cases), and DI (nine of 16 cases). No instance of preoperative endocrinopathy was corrected through TC surgery. Four patients (22%) exhibited short-term memory loss and 11 (61%) had hyperphagia after surgery. When compared with those in the TC group, patients in the TN group had shorter hospital stays.

Conclusions. Use of the TN approach can render good outcomes in properly selected patients with craniopharyngioma, particularly when the tumor is cystic. Even in mostly suprasellar cases, an extended TN approach can afford complete resection. Note that endocrine function often worsens after surgery and that postoperative obesity can be a significant problem.