Pineal region tumors are a rare and heterogeneous group of lesions. The optimal therapeutic approach is currently a topic of controversy, particularly in light of the potential operative risks and complications. The potential beneficial effects of surgery have already been described, but information about neurological outcome and, in particular, health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is still lacking in the literature. The aim of this study was to assess the therapeutic effect of resection of pineal region lesions, emphasizing grade of tumor resection, neurological outcome, quality of life, and the necessity of additional shunt procedures.
The authors performed a prospective study of HRQOL in 32 patients who had undergone surgical treatment of lesions in the pineal region (20 tumors and 12 cysts) between 2008 and 2014. All patients had at least 6 months of follow-up, with reexamination including standardized neurological assessment, an evaluation of dependency using the modified Rankin Scale, and an evaluation of HRQOL. The authors retrospectively examined patient charts and collected information regarding imaging studies, neurological status prior to surgery, surgical strategies used, any complications, and histological diagnoses.
In this study, there was no surgery-associated mortality or major morbidity. Permanent minor morbidity was reported for 4 patients (13%). Comparing pre- and postoperative neurological symptoms, 75% of tumor patients had either complete resolution or improvement of preoperative symptoms; symptoms were unchanged in 10% of tumor patients and deteriorated in 15%. In patients with pineal cysts, long-term follow-up showed that 42% of patients were free of any symptoms and 58% experienced improvement of their preoperative symptoms. These outcomes were also reflected in the modified Rankin Scale scores, which demonstrated significant improvement following resection of pineal region lesions. Furthermore, significant improvements in HRQOL scores occurred in global health status, in all functional scales, and in pain, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and insomnia (p < 0.0001). Moreover, a significant reduction in the necessity for permanent shunt procedures was observed after gross-total tumor resection compared with subtotal resection (p = 0.035) of pineal cysts.
Despite potential risks, (radical) surgery is a highly effective and safe treatment option for pineal region lesions and should be considered for the majority of patients.