The endoscopic endonasal approach for treating primary skull base malignancies involving the clivus is a formidable task. The authors hypothesized that tumor involvement of nearby critical anatomical structures creates hurdles to endoscopic gross-total resection (GTR). The aim of this study was to retrospectively review the clinical outcomes of patients who underwent an endoscopic endonasal approach to treat primary malignancies involving the clivus and to analyze prognostic factors for GTR.
Between January 2009 and November 2015, 42 patients underwent the endoscopic endonasal approach for resection of primary skull base malignancies involving the clivus at 2 independent institutions. Clinical data; tumor locations within the clivus; and anatomical involvement of the cavernous or paraclival internal carotid artery, cisternal trigeminal nerve, hypoglossal canal, and dura mater were investigated to assess the extent of resection. Possible prognostic factors affecting GTR were also analyzed.
Of the 42 patients, 37 were diagnosed with chordomas and 5 were diagnosed with chondrosarcomas. The mean (± SD) preoperative tumor volume was 25.2 ± 30.5 cm3 (range 0.8–166.7 cm3). GTR was achieved in 28 patients (66.7%) and subtotal resection in 14 patients (33.3%). All tumors were classified as upper (n = 17), middle (n = 17), or lower (n = 8) clival tumors based on clival involvement, and as central (24 [57.1%]) or paramedian (18 [42.9%]) based on laterality of the tumor. Univariate analysis identified the tumor laterality (OR 6.25, 95% CI 1.51–25.86; p = 0.011) as significantly predictive of GTR. In addition, the laterality of the tumor was found to be a statistically significant predictor in multivariate analysis (OR 41.16, 95% CI 1.12–1512.65; p = 0.043).
An endoscopic endonasal approach can provide favorable clinical and surgical outcomes. However, the tumor laterality should be considered as a potential obstacle to total removal.