The object of this study was to present the surgical results of a large, single-surgeon consecutive series of patients who had undergone transcisternal (TCi) or transcallosal-transventricular (TCTV) endoscope-assisted microsurgery for thalamic lesions.
This is a retrospective study of a consecutive series of patients harboring thalamic lesions and undergoing surgery at one institution between February 2007 and August 2019. All surgical and patient-related data were prospectively collected. Depending on the relationship between the lesion and the surgically accessible thalamic surfaces (lateral ventricle, velar, cisternal, and third ventricle), one of the following surgical TCi or TCTV approaches was chosen: anterior interhemispheric transcallosal (AIT), posterior interhemispheric transtentorial subsplenial (PITS), perimedian supracerebellar transtentorial (PeST), or perimedian contralateral supracerebellar suprapineal (PeCSS). Since January 2018, intraoperative MRI has also been part of the protocol. The main study outcome was extent of resection. Complete neurological examination took place preoperatively, at discharge, and 3 months postoperatively. Descriptive statistics were calculated for the whole cohort.
In the study period, 92 patients underwent surgery for a thalamic lesion: 81 gliomas, 6 cavernous malformations, 2 germinomas, 1 metastasis, 1 arteriovenous malformation, and 1 ependymal cyst. In none of the cases was a transcortical approach adopted. Thirty-five patients underwent an AIT approach, 35 a PITS, 19 a PeST, and 3 a PeCSS. The mean follow-up was 38 months (median 20 months, range 1–137 months). No patient was lost to follow-up. The mean extent of resection was 95% (median 100%, range 21%–100%), and there was no surgical mortality. Most patients (59.8%) experienced improvement in their Karnofsky Performance Status. New permanent neurological deficits occurred in 8 patients (8.7%). Early postoperative (< 3 months after surgery) problems in CSF circulation requiring diversion occurred in 7 patients (7.6%; 6/7 cases in patients with high-grade glioma).
Endoscope-assisted microsurgery allows for the removal of thalamic lesions with acceptable morbidity. Surgeons must strive to access any given thalamic lesion through one of the four accessible thalamic surfaces, as they can be reached through either a TCTV or TCi approach with no or minimal damage to normal brain parenchyma. Patients harboring a high-grade glioma are likely to develop a postoperative disturbance of CSF circulation. For this reason, the AIT approach should be favored, as it facilitates a microsurgical third ventriculocisternostomy and allows intraoperative MRI to be done.