Achieving microscopically tumor-free margins during resection of skull base malignancies has consistently been identified as a positive prognostic factor for patient survival. When malignancies extend perineurally into the major nerves traversing the skull base and entering the cavernous sinus, achieving tumor-free margins can be challenging and typically necessitates performing a craniotomy to access the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus. This report describes a novel technique used to access and resect malignancy extending perineurally into the intracranial portion of V2 via the maxillary sinus.
Seven patients with maxillary sinus tumors and perineural extensions along V2, who underwent resection of the primary tumor and transmaxillary intracranial exposure and dissection of the maxillary nerve to achieve maximal tumor resection, were analyzed. Prospectively collected data, including symptoms, clinical signs, diagnostic imaging data, pathological diagnosis, incidence and nature of complications, adjuvant therapies, and oncological outcomes, were retrospectively analyzed.
All patients in this cohort had trigeminal nerve symptomatology as well as abnormal enhancement in the pterygopalatine fissure as noted on magnetic resonance imaging. The transmaxillary exploration of the maxillary nerve technique was used in all seven patients, resulting in gross-total resection of the tumors in every patient. At the last follow-up (mean 30 months, range 13–58 months, in four of seven patients for > 2 years), six patients were alive without evidence of local disease. One patient with squamous cell carcinoma died of progressive infratemporal fossa and regional neck disease 26 months after resection. No intracranial or cavernous sinus disease was present.
This technique extended the limits of resection without the need for a craniotomy and improved local tumor control in this patient cohort.