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Jun Pan, Songtao Qi, Yi Liu, Yuntao Lu, Junxiang Peng, XiAn Zhang, YiKai Xu, Guang-long Huang and Jun Fan

OBJECT

Craniopharyngiomas (CPs) are rare epithelial tumors that are often associated with an enigmatic and unpredictable growth pattern. Understanding the growth patterns of these tumors has a direct impact on surgical planning and may enhance the safety of radical tumor removal. The aim of this study was to analyze the growth patterns and surgical treatment of CPs with a focus on the involvement of the hypothalamopituitary axis and the relationship of the tumor to the arachnoid membrane and surrounding structures.

METHODS

Clinical data from 226 consecutive patients with primary CP were retrospectively reviewed. Tumor location and the relationship of the tumor to the third ventricle floor and the pituitary stalk were evaluated using preoperative MRI and intraoperative findings. A topographic classification scheme was proposed based on the site of tumor origin and tumor development. The clinical relevance of this classification on patient presentation and outcomes was also analyzed.

RESULTS

The growth of CPs can be broadly divided into 3 groups based on the site of tumor origin and on tumor-meningeal relationships: Group I, infrasellar/infradiaphragmatic CPs (Id-CPs), which mainly occurred in children; Group II, suprasellar subarachnoid extraventricular CPs (Sa-CPs), which were mainly observed in adults and rarely occurred in children; and Group III, suprasellar subpial ventricular CPs (Sp-CPs), which commonly occurred in both adults and children. Tumors in each group may develop complex growth patterns during vertical expansion along the pituitary stalk. Tumor growth patterns were closely related to both clinical presentation and outcomes. Patients with Sp-CPs had more prevalent weight gain than patients with Id-CPs or Sa-CPs; the rates of significant weight gain were 41.7% for children and 16.7% for adults with Sp-CPs, 2.2% and 7.1% for those with Id-CPs, and 12.5% and 2.6% for those with Sa-CPs (p < 0.001). Moreover, patients with Sp-CPs had increased hypothalamic dysfunction after radical removal; 39% of patients with Sp-CPs, 14.5% with Id-CPs, and 17.4% with Sa-CPs had high-grade hypothalamic dysfunction in the first 2 postoperative years (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

The classification of CPs based on growth pattern may elucidate the best course of treatment for this formidable tumor. More tailored, individualized surgical strategies based on tumor growth patterns are mandatory to provide long-term tumor control and to minimize damage to hypothalamic structures. Differences in the distribution of growth patterns between children and adults imply that hierarchical comparison is necessary when investigating outcomes and survival across treatment paradigms in patients with CP.

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Xi-an Zhang, Song-tao Qi, Jun Fan, Guang-long Huang and Jun-xiang Peng

Object

The aim of this study was to describe the similarity of configuration between the arachnoid complex in the posterior half of the incisural space and the Liliequist membrane.

Methods

Microsurgical dissection and anatomical observation were performed in 20 formalin-fixed adult cadaver heads. The origin, distribution, and configuration of the arachnoid membranes and their relationships with the vascular structures in the posterior half of the incisural space were examined.

Results

The posterior perimesencephalic membrane and the cerebellar precentral membrane have a common origin at the tentorial edge and form an arachnoid complex strikingly resembling an inverted Liliequist membrane. Asymmetry between sides is not uncommon. If the cerebellar precentral membrane is hypoplastic on one side or both, the well-developed quadrigeminal membrane plays a prominent part in partitioning the subarachnoid space in the posterior half of the incisural space.

Conclusions

The arachnoid complex in the posterior half of the incisural space can be regarded as an inverted Liliequist membrane. This concept can help neurosurgeons to gain better understanding of the surgical anatomy at the level of the tentorial incisura.