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Endoscopic endonasal resection versus open surgery for pediatric craniopharyngioma: comparison of outcomes and complications

Peter J. Madsen, Vivek P. Buch, Jennifer E. Douglas, Arjun K. Parasher, David K. Lerner, Erin Alexander, Alan D. Workman, James N. Palmer, Shih-Shan Lang, Benjamin C. Kennedy, Arastoo Vossough, Nithin D. Adappa, and Phillip B. Storm


Craniopharyngioma represents up to 10% of pediatric brain tumors. Although these lesions are benign, attempts at gross-total resection (GTR) can lead to serious complications. More conservative approaches have emerged but require adjuvant radiation. Endoscopic endonasal surgery (EES) aimed at GTR has the potential to result in fewer complications, but there has been limited comparison to open surgery. The authors performed a review of these two approaches within their institution to elucidate potential benefits and complication differences.


The authors performed a retrospective review of pediatric patients undergoing resection of craniopharyngioma at their institution between 2001 and 2017. Volumetric analysis of tumor size and postoperative ischemic injury was performed. Charts were reviewed for a number of outcome measures.


A total of 43 patients with an average age of 8.2 years were identified. Open surgery was the initial intervention in 15 and EES in 28. EES was performed in patients 3–17 years of age. EES has been the only approach used since 2011. In the entire cohort, GTR was more common in the EES group (85.7% vs 53.3%, p = 0.03). Recurrence rate (40% vs 14.2%, p = 0.13) and need for adjuvant radiation (20.0% vs 10.7%, p = 0.71) were higher in the open surgical group, although not statistically significant. Pseudoaneurysm development was only observed in the open surgical group. Volumetric imaging analysis showed a trend toward larger preoperative tumor volumes in the open surgical group, so a matched cohort analysis was performed with the largest tumors from the EES group. This revealed no difference in residual tumor volume (p = 0.28), but the volume of postoperative ischemia was still significantly larger in the open group (p = 0.004). Postoperative weight gain was more common in the open surgical group, a statistically significant finding in the complete patient group that trended toward significance in the matched cohort groups. Body mass index at follow-up correlated with volume of ischemic injury in regression analysis of the complete patient cohort (p = 0.05).


EES was associated with similar, if not better, extent of resection and significantly less ischemic injury than open surgery. Pseudoaneurysms were only seen in the open surgical group. Weight gain was also less prevalent in the EES cohort and appears be correlated with extent of ischemic injury at time of surgery.