There remains a paucity of literature on hypothalamic cavernous malformations (HCMs). Here, the authors present the largest series of HCMs to date and review the literature to gain additional insight into this rare disease subset.
A prospectively managed database was retrospectively reviewed for patients diagnosed with symptomatic HCM and treated surgically between 1987 and 2019. Data gathered included demographics, presenting signs, radiological measurements, surgical approach, and postoperative events. Functional outcome was measured using the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) and Glasgow Outcome Scale–Extended (GOSE) pre- and postoperatively. A PRISMA guideline systematic review of HCM in the literature was performed.
Our cohort study consisted of 12 patients with symptomatic, and radiographically confirmed, HCM treated with microsurgery by the senior author (G.K.S.). An additional 16 surgically or conservatively managed patients were also identified from the literature, and the authors analyzed the data of all 28 patients (with 54% of patients being male; mean age 39 ± 16 years, range 10–68 years). Patients harboring HCMs most commonly presented with headache (16/28, 57%), short-term memory impairment (11/28, 39%), and gait disturbance (8/28, 32%). Radiographically, lesions most commonly involved the mammillary region (18/23, 78%), the tuberal/infundibulum region (13/23, 57%), and the preoptic/lamina terminalis region (12/23, 52%), with a mean diameter of 2.5 ± 1.4 cm (range 0.8–7 cm) at presentation. Acute hemorrhage was identified in 96% (23/24) of patients on presentation, with 96% (23/24) intraparenchymal and 29% (7/24) intraventricular. Of 24 patients who were managed surgically, gross-total resection (GTR) was achieved in 88% (21/24) of cases. There were no reports of perioperative infarction or mortality. With a mean follow-up period of 41 months (range 0.5–309 months), 77% (20/26) of patients experienced functional improvement, while 12% (3/26) had no change, and 12% (3/26) experienced increased disability. In our cohort of 12 patients, 83% (10/12) continued to report symptoms at the last follow-up (mean 4.8 years, range 0.1–25.7 years). However, there was a significant improvement in mRS score noted after surgery (mean 1.4 vs 3.1, p = 0.0026) and a trend toward improvement in GOSE score (mean 6.3 vs 5.1, p = 0.09).
Hemorrhage from HCMs can cause a symptomatic mass effect on adjacent eloquent structures. While patients are unlikely to be deficit free following surgery, GTR allows for functional improvement and reduces recurrent hemorrhage rates. Microsurgery remains a viable option for symptomatic HCMs in experienced hands.