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Kelly Lamiman, Kenneth K. Wong, Benita Tamrazi, Jason D. Nosrati, Arthur Olch, Eric L. Chang and Erin N. Kiehna

OBJECTIVE

When complete resection of craniopharyngioma is not achievable or the sequelae are prohibitive, limited surgery and radiation therapy have demonstrated excellent local disease control while minimizing treatment-related sequelae. When residual tissue exists, there is a propensity for further cyst development and expansion during and after radiation therapy. This can result in obstructive hydrocephalus, visual changes, and/or clinical decline. The authors present a quantitative analysis of cyst expansion during and after radiotherapy and examine how it affected subsequent management.

METHODS

The authors performed an institutional review board–approved retrospective study of patients with histologically confirmed craniopharyngioma treated between 2000 and 2015 with surgery and intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) at a single institution. Volumetric measurements of cyst contours were generated by radiation oncology treatment planning software postoperatively, during IMRT, and up to 12 months after IMRT. Patient, tumor, and treatment–related variables were collected until the last known follow-up and were analyzed.

RESULTS

Twenty-seven patients underwent surgery and IMRT. The median total radiation dose was 54 Gy. Of the 27 patients, 11 patients (40.7%) demonstrated cyst expansions within 1 year of IMRT. Of note, all tumors with cyst expansion were radiographically Puget Grade 2. Maximal cyst expansion peaked at 4.27 months following radiation therapy, with a median volume growth of 4.1 cm3 (mean 9.61 cm3) above the postoperative cyst volume. Eight patients experienced spontaneous cyst regression without therapeutic intervention. Three patients experienced MRI-confirmed cyst enlargement during IMRT, all of whom required adaptive planning to ensure adequate coverage of the entire tumor volume. Two of these 3 patients required ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement and additional intervention. One underwent additional resection, and the other had placement of an intracystic catheter for aspiration and delivery of intracystic interferon within 12 months of completing IMRT. All 3 patients now have stable disease.

CONCLUSIONS

Craniopharyngioma cyst expansion occurred in approximately 40% of the patients during or after radiotherapy. In the majority of patients, cyst expansion was a self-limiting process and did not confer a worse outcome. During radiotherapy, cyst expansion may be apparent on image-guided radiation therapy. Adaptive IMRT planning may be required to ensure that the intended IMRT dose covers the entire tumor and cyst volume. The sequelae of cyst expansion include progressive hydrocephalus, which may be treated with a shunt. For patients with solitary cyst expansion, cyst aspiration and/or intracystic interferon may result in disease control.

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Edward R. Laws, Judith M. Wong, Timothy R. Smith, Kenneth de los Reyes, Linda S. Aglio, Alison J. Thorne, David J. Cote, Felice Esposito, Paolo Cappabianca and Atul Gawande

OBJECT

Approximately 250 million surgical procedures are performed annually worldwide, and data suggest that major complications occur in 3%–17% of them. Many of these complications can be classified as avoidable, and previous studies have demonstrated that preoperative checklists improve operating room teamwork and decrease complication rates. Although the authors’ institution has instituted a general preoperative “time-out” designed to streamline communication, flatten vertical authority gradients, and decrease procedural errors, there is no specific checklist for transnasal transsphenoidal anterior skull base surgery, with or without endoscopy. Such minimally invasive cranial surgery uses a completely different conceptual approach, set-up, instrumentation, and operative procedure. Therefore, it can be associated with different types of complications as compared with open cranial surgery. The authors hypothesized that a detailed, procedure-specific, preoperative checklist would be useful to reduce errors, improve outcomes, decrease delays, and maximize both teambuilding and operational efficiency. Thus, the object of this study was to develop such a checklist for endonasal transsphenoidal anterior skull base surgery.

METHODS

An expert panel was convened that consisted of all members of the typical surgical team for transsphenoidal endoscopic cases: neurosurgeons, anesthesiologists, circulating nurses, scrub technicians, surgical operations managers, and technical assistants. Beginning with a general checklist, procedure-specific items were added and categorized into 4 pauses: Anesthesia Pause, Surgical Pause, Equipment Pause, and Closure Pause.

RESULTS

The final endonasal transsphenoidal anterior skull base surgery checklist is composed of the following 4 pauses. The Anesthesia Pause consists of patient identification, diagnosis, pertinent laboratory studies, medications, surgical preparation, patient positioning, intravenous/arterial access, fluid management, monitoring, and other special considerations (e.g., Valsalva, jugular compression, lumbar drain, and so on). The Surgical Pause is composed of personnel introductions, planned procedural elements, estimation of duration of surgery, anticipated blood loss and fluid management, imaging, specimen collection, and questions of a surgical nature. The Equipment Pause assures proper function and availability of the microscope, endoscope, cameras and recorders, guidance systems, special instruments, ultrasonic microdoppler, microdebrider, drills, and other adjunctive supplies (e.g., Avitene, cotton balls, nasal packs, and so on). The Closure Pause is dedicated to issues of immediate postoperative patient disposition, orders, and management.

CONCLUSIONS

Surgical complications are a considerable cause of death and disability worldwide. Checklists have been shown to be an effective tool for reducing preventable errors surrounding surgery and decreasing associated complications. Although general checklists are already in place in most institutions, a specific checklist for endonasal transsphenoidal anterior skull base surgery was developed to help safeguard patients, improve outcomes, and enhance teambuilding.