Saul F. Morales-Valero, Elena Serchi, Matteo Zoli, Diego Mazzatenta and Jamie J. Van Gompel
The transoral approach is the gold standard for ventral decompression of the brainstem caused by craniovertebral junction (CVJ) pathology. This approach is often associated with significant morbidity, related to swallowing and respiratory complications. The endoscopic endonasal approach was introduced to reduce the rate of these complications. However, the exact role of this approach in the treatment of CVJ pathology is not well defined.
A comprehensive literature search was performed to identify series of patients with pathology of the CVJ treated via the endoscopie endonasal approach. Data on patient characteristics, indications for treatment, complications, and outcome were obtained and analyzed.
Twelve studies involving 72 patients were included. The most common indications for treatment were rheumatoid pannus (38.9%) and basilar invagination (29.2%). Cerebrospinal fluid leak was found in 18% of cases intraoperatively and 4.2% of cases postoperatively. One case of meningitis complicated by sepsis and death represents the procedure-related mortality of 1.4%. Of the patients without preoperative swallowing impairment, 95% returned to oral feeding on the 3rd postoperative day. Ninety-three percent of patients experienced improvement in neurological symptoms after the procedure.
The endonasal endoscopie approach is effective for the treatment of neural compression caused by CVJ pathology. It offers advantages such as lower rates of postoperative dysphagia and respiratory complications when compared with the more traditional transoral approach. However, these 2 approaches should be seen as complementary rather than alternatives. Patient-related factors as well as the surgeon’s expertise must be considered when making treatment decisions.
Matteo Zoli, Diego Mazzatenta, Adelaide Valluzzi, Gianluca Marucci, Ph.D., Nicola Acciarri, Ernesto Pasquini and Giorgio Frank
In the last decade the indications for the endoscopic endonasal approach have been progressively expanded to include lesions that have not been traditionally considered amenable to resection through the transsphenoidal route. In this study, the authors analyze their experience with hypothalamic gliomas treated via the endoscopic endonasal approach.
Consecutive cases of hypothalamic gliomas treated since 2007 via an endoscopic endonasal approach were reviewed. Preoperative and postoperative neuroimaging as well as endocrinological, neurological, and visual symptoms were analyzed to assess the surgical outcome. Signs and symptoms of hypothalamic dysfunction including body mass index (BMI), memory, sleep-wake rhythm, and polyphagia were prospectively collected pre- and postoperatively to assess hypothalamic function. Quality of life was evaluated using the Katz scale.
In the initial phase the endoscopic endonasal approach was adopted in 3 cases with a palliative intent, to obtain a biopsy sample or for debulking of the mass followed by radio- or chemotherapy. In 2 later cases it was successfully adopted to achieve gross-total tumor resection. Complications consisted of 2 postoperative CSF leaks, which required an endoscopic endonasal reintervention. Visual deficit improved in 3 cases and normalized in the other 2. Four patients developed diabetes insipidus, and 3 an anterior panhypopituitarism. All patients had a moderate increase in BMI. No patients presented with any other signs of hypothalamic damage, and their quality of life at follow-up is normal.
Despite the limitations of a short follow-up and small sample, the authors’ early experience with the endoscopic endonasal approach has revealed it to be a direct, straightforward, and safe approach to third ventricle astrocytomas. It allowed the authors to perform tumor resection with the same microsurgical technique: dissecting the tumor with 2 hands, performing a central debulking, and controlling the bleeding with bipolar coagulation. The main limitations were represented by some anatomical conditions, such as the position of the chiasm and the anterior communicating artery complex and, finally, by the challenge of watertight plastic repair. To definitively evaluate the role of this approach in hypothalamic gliomas, a comparison with transcranial series would be necessary, but due to the rarity of these cases such a study is still lacking. The authors observed that more aggressive surgery is associated with a worse endocrinological outcome; thus they consider it to be an open question (in particular in prepubertal patients) whether radical removal is an advisable goal for hypothalamic gliomas.
Matteo Zoli, Marco Faustini-Fustini, Diego Mazzatenta, Gianluca Marucci, Eugenio De Carlo, Antonella Bacci, Ernesto Pasquini, Giuseppe Lanzino and Giorgio Frank
Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) adenomas have been recognized as a more aggressive and invasive subtype of pituitary adenomas. An additional and clinically relevant peculiarity of these tumors is their ability to modify their clinical expression from a silent form to Cushing disease or vice versa. The aim of this study was to review a series of patients with pituitary adenomas and analyze the clinical implications of the transformation of clinical expression in 5 cases that showed this phenomenon.
The authors retrospectively reviewed a series of patients with pituitary adenoma and collected clinical, biohumoral, and neuroradiological data of those who presented with a transformation from silent ACTH adenomas to functioning tumors or vice versa. In all the cases, preoperative assessment consisted of brain MRI, ophthalmological examination, and complete baseline endocrinological investigation. In patients with clinical and/or biochemical findings suspicious for Cushing syndrome, a low-dose dexamethasone suppression test was performed to rule in or out this diagnosis. Endocrinological evaluations were repeated 1 month after surgery, 3 months after surgery, and every 6 months or annually thereafter. Ophthalmological evaluations and brain MRIs were repeated after 3 months and then every 6 or 12 months thereafter.
Five patients (2 men and 3 women) included in this series had corticotropic tumors that showed transformation from an endocrinologically silent form to manifest Cushing disease and vice versa. The mean age at presentation was 40 years (range 18–51 years). In 3 of these patients, a transformation from silent to functioning ACTH adenoma with manifest Cushing disease occurred. In 1 patient, the authors observed the transition from a functioning to a silent adenoma with spontaneous resolution of hypercortisolism. Another patient's silent adenoma “shifted” to a functioning adenoma and then regressed back to a silent form with spontaneous resolution of Cushing disease. This patient again developed hypercortisolism, which finally resolved spontaneously. In this series, the transformation occurred after a mean of 3.5 years (range 6 months to 7 years). The shift from an ACTH-silent to a functioning adenoma was observed in 9% of the ACTH-silent adenomas in this series (4 of 44 cases), and the spontaneous remission of Cushing disease to a silent corticotroph cell adenoma occurred in 1.5% of cases of this series (2 of 132 functioning ACTH adenomas). At follow-up (mean 107 months; range 60–177 months), cortisol levels were within normal limits in all 5 cases. However, 1 patient required Gamma Knife radiosurgery and eventually adrenalectomy for disease control to be achieved.
The ability of silent ACTH adenomas to transform their secretion pattern poses a challenge for neurosurgeons and endocrinologists. Because the transformation is often unexpected, the clinical and biochemical data can be underestimated. Furthermore, this bizarre and unpredictable postoperative tumor behavior can lead to misinterpretation of clinical and endocrinological outcomes. Even if these cases are very rare, they are not anecdotal in large series. Thus, ACTH adenomas require careful biohumoral and neuroradiological follow-up to detect possible transformations.
Matteo Zoli, Giacomo Sollini, Sofia Asioli, Clarissa Ann Elisabeth Gelmi, Angelo Gianluca Corradini, Ernesto Pasquini and Diego Mazzatenta
We present the case of a 47-year-old man with left exophthalmus. MRI showed a left intraorbital intraconal cavernous malformation, located in the superoesternal quadrant and medially displacing the optic nerve. An endoscopic transpalpebral approach was performed and total removal was achieved after dissection of the lesion from the optic nerve and other orbital structures. Pathology confirmed the diagnosis of cavernous malformation. The patient was discharged neurologically intact on the second postoperative day free of complications. Follow-up MRI demonstrated radical resection of the cavernoma and resolution of the exophthalmus with an excellent esthetic result.
The video can be found here: https://youtu.be/o1a1tneZ6qk.
Matteo Zoli, Laura Milanese, Rocco Bonfatti, Marco Faustini-Fustini, Gianluca Marucci, Giovanni Tallini, Corrado Zenesini, Carmelo Sturiale, Giorgio Frank, Ernesto Pasquini and Diego Mazzatenta
In the past decade, the role of the endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) has relevantly evolved for skull base tumors. In this study, the authors review their surgical experience with using an EEA in the treatment of clival chordomas, which are deep and infiltrative skull base lesions, and they highlight the advantages and limitations of this ventral approach.
All consecutive cases of chordoma treated with an EEA between 1998 and 2015 at a single institution are included in this study. Preoperative assessment consisted of neuroimaging (MRI and CT with angiography sequences) and endocrinological, neurological, and ophthalmological evaluations, which were repeated 3 months after surgery and annually thereafter. Postoperative adjuvant therapies were considered.
Sixty-five patients (male/female ratio 1:0.9) were included in this study. The median age was 48 years (range 9–80 years). Gross-total resection (GTR) was achieved in 47 cases (58.7%). On univariate analysis, primary procedures (p = 0.001), location in the superior or middle third of the clivus (p = 0.043), extradural location (p = 0.035), and histology of conventional chordomas (p = 0.013) were associated with a higher rate of GTR. The complication rate was 15.1%, and there were no perioperative deaths. Most complications did not result in permanent sequelae and included 2 CSF leaks (2.5%), 5 transient cranial nerve VI palsies (6.2%), and 2 internal carotid artery injuries (2.5%), which were treated with coil occlusion of the internal carotid artery without neurological deficits. Three patients (3.8%) presented with complications resulting in permanent neurological deficits due to a postoperative hematoma (1.2%) causing a hemiparesis, and 2 permanent ophthalmoplegias (2.5%). Seventeen patients (26.2%) have died of tumor progression over the course of follow-up (median 52 months, range 7–159 months). Based on Kaplan-Meier analysis, the survival rate was 77% at 5 years and 57% at 10 years. On multivariate analysis, the extent of tumor removal (p = 0.001) and the absence of previous treatments (p = 0.001) proved to be correlated with a longer survival rate.
The EEA was associated with a high rate of tumor removal and symptom control, with low morbidity and preservation of a good quality of life. These results allow for a satisfactory overall survival rate, particularly after GTR and for primary surgery. Considering these results, the authors believe that an EEA can be a helpful tool in chordoma surgery, achieving a good balance between as much tumor removal as possible and the preservation of an acceptable patient quality of life.
Luigi Maria Cavallo, Giorgio Frank, Paolo Cappabianca, Domenico Solari, Diego Mazzatenta, Alessandro Villa, Matteo Zoli, Alfonso Iodice D'Enza, Felice Esposito and Ernesto Pasquini
Despite their benign histological appearance, craniopharyngiomas can be considered a challenge for the neurosurgeon and a possible source of poor prognosis for the patient. With the widespread use of the endoscope in endonasal surgery, this route has been proposed over the past decade as an alternative technique for the removal of craniopharyngiomas.
The authors retrospectively analyzed data from a series of 103 patients who underwent the endoscopic endonasal approach at two institutions (Division of Neurosurgery of the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Naples, Italy, and Division of Neurosurgery of the Bellaria Hospital, Bologna, Italy), between January 1997 and December 2012, for the removal of infra- and/or supradiaphragmatic craniopharyngiomas. Twenty-nine patients (28.2%) had previously been surgically treated.
The authors achieved overall gross-total removal in 68.9% of the cases: 78.9% in purely infradiaphragmatic lesions and 66.3% in lesions involving the supradiaphragmatic space. Among lesions previously treated surgically, the gross-total removal rate was 62.1%. The overall improvement rate in visual disturbances was 74.7%, whereas worsening occurred in 2.5%. No new postoperative defect was noted. Worsening of the anterior pituitary function was reported in 46.2% of patients overall, and there were 38 new cases (48.1% of 79) of postoperative diabetes insipidus. The most common complication was postoperative CSF leakage; the overall rate was 14.6%, and it diminished to 4% in the last 25 procedures, thanks to improvement in reconstruction techniques. The mortality rate was 1.9%, with a mean follow-up duration of 48 months (range 3–246 months).
The endoscopic endonasal approach has become a valid surgical technique for the management of craniopharyngiomas. It provides an excellent corridor to infra- and supradiaphragmatic midline craniopharyngiomas, including the management of lesions extending into the third ventricle chamber. Even though indications for this approach are rigorously lesion based, the data in this study confirm its effectiveness in a large patient series.
Matteo Zoli, Luisa Sambati, Laura Milanese, Matteo Foschi, Marco Faustini-Fustini, Gianluca Marucci, Dario de Biase, Giovanni Tallini, Annagrazia Cecere, Francesco Mignani, Carmelo Sturiale, Giorgio Frank, Ernesto Pasquini, Pietro Cortelli, Diego Mazzatenta and Federica Provini
One of the more serious risks in the treatment of third ventricle craniopharyngiomas is represented by hypothalamic damage. Recently, many papers have reported the expansion of the indications for the endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) to be used for these tumors as well. The aim of this study was to assess the outcome of sleep-wake cycle and body core temperature (BCT), both depending on hypothalamic control, in patients affected by craniopharyngiomas involving the third ventricle that were surgically treated via an EEA.
All consecutive adult patients with craniopharyngiomas that were treated at one center via an EEA between 2014 and 2016 were prospectively included. Each patient underwent neuroradiological, endocrinological, and ophthalmological evaluation; 24-hour monitoring of the BCT rhythm; and the sleep-wake cycle before surgery and at follow-up of at least 6 months.
Ten patients were included in the study (male/female ratio 4:6, mean age 48.6 years, SD 15.9 years). Gross-total resection was achieved in 8 cases. Preoperative BCT rhythm was pathological in 6 patients. After surgery, these disturbances resolved in 2 cases, improved in another 3, and remained the same in 1 patient; also, 1 case of de novo onset was observed. Before surgery the sleep-wake cycle was pathological in 8 cases, and it was restored in 4 patients at follow-up. After surgery the number of patients reporting diurnal naps increased from 7 to 9.
The outcome of the sleep-wake cycle and BCT analyzed after EEA in this study is promising. Despite the short duration of the authors' experience, they consider these results encouraging; additional series are needed to confirm the preliminary findings.