Meningiomas are the most common benign extramedullary lesions of the foramen magnum; however, their optimal management remains undefined. Given their location, foramen magnum meningiomas (FMMs) can cause significant morbidity, and complete microsurgical removal can be challenging. Anterior and anterolateral FMMs carry greater risks with surgery, but they comprise the majority of these lesions. As an alternative to resection, stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) has been used to treat FMMs in small case series. To more clearly define the outcomes of SRS and to delineate a rational management paradigm for these lesions, the authors analyzed the safety and efficacy of SRS for FMM in an international multicenter trial.
Seven medical centers participating in the International Gamma Knife Research Foundation (IGKRF) provided data for this retrospective cohort study. Patients who were treated with Gamma Knife radiosurgery and whose clinical and radiological follow-up was longer than 6 months were eligible for study inclusion. Data from pre- and post-SRS radiological and clinical evaluations were analyzed. Stereotactic radiosurgery treatment variables were recorded.
Fifty-seven patients (39 females and 18 males, with a median age of 64 years) met the study inclusion criteria. Thirty-two percent had undergone prior microsurgical resection. Patients most frequently presented with cranial neuropathy (39%), headache (35%), numbness (32%), and ataxia (30%). Median pre-SRS tumor volume was 2.9 cm3. Median SRS margin dose was 12.5 Gy (range 10–16 Gy). At the last follow-up after SRS, 49% of tumors were stable, 44% had regressed, and 7% had progressed. Progression-free survival rates at 5 and 10 years were each 92%. A greater margin dose was associated with a significantly increased likelihood of tumor regression, with 53% of tumors treated with > 12 Gy regressing. Fifty-two percent of symptomatic patients noted some clinical improvement. Adverse radiation effects were limited to hearing loss and numbness in 1 patient (2%).
Stereotactic radiosurgery for FMM frequently results in tumor control or tumor regression, as well as symptom improvement. Margin doses > 12 Gy were associated with increased rates of tumor regression. Stereotactic radiosurgery was generally safe and well tolerated. Given its risk-benefit profile, SRS may be particularly useful in the management of small- to moderate-volume anterior and anterolateral FMMs.