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Stepan Fedorko, Klaus Zweckberger, and Andreas W. Unterberg

OBJECTIVE

Pineal region tumors are a rare and heterogeneous group of lesions. The optimal therapeutic approach is currently a topic of controversy, particularly in light of the potential operative risks and complications. The potential beneficial effects of surgery have already been described, but information about neurological outcome and, in particular, health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is still lacking in the literature. The aim of this study was to assess the therapeutic effect of resection of pineal region lesions, emphasizing grade of tumor resection, neurological outcome, quality of life, and the necessity of additional shunt procedures.

METHODS

The authors performed a prospective study of HRQOL in 32 patients who had undergone surgical treatment of lesions in the pineal region (20 tumors and 12 cysts) between 2008 and 2014. All patients had at least 6 months of follow-up, with reexamination including standardized neurological assessment, an evaluation of dependency using the modified Rankin Scale, and an evaluation of HRQOL. The authors retrospectively examined patient charts and collected information regarding imaging studies, neurological status prior to surgery, surgical strategies used, any complications, and histological diagnoses.

RESULTS

In this study, there was no surgery-associated mortality or major morbidity. Permanent minor morbidity was reported for 4 patients (13%). Comparing pre- and postoperative neurological symptoms, 75% of tumor patients had either complete resolution or improvement of preoperative symptoms; symptoms were unchanged in 10% of tumor patients and deteriorated in 15%. In patients with pineal cysts, long-term follow-up showed that 42% of patients were free of any symptoms and 58% experienced improvement of their preoperative symptoms. These outcomes were also reflected in the modified Rankin Scale scores, which demonstrated significant improvement following resection of pineal region lesions. Furthermore, significant improvements in HRQOL scores occurred in global health status, in all functional scales, and in pain, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and insomnia (p < 0.0001). Moreover, a significant reduction in the necessity for permanent shunt procedures was observed after gross-total tumor resection compared with subtotal resection (p = 0.035) of pineal cysts.

CONCLUSIONS

Despite potential risks, (radical) surgery is a highly effective and safe treatment option for pineal region lesions and should be considered for the majority of patients.

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Henrik Giese, Benjamin Haenig, Anna Haenig, Andreas Unterberg, and Klaus Zweckberger

OBJECTIVE

Craniopharyngiomas are rare and benign tumors of the sellar and/or parasellar region. Primary treatment involves resection followed by adjuvant radiotherapy. While the grade of resection was frequently analyzed following surgery, the neurological outcome and especially neuropsychological deficits and quality of life have been neglected for many decades. Therefore, the authors retrospectively analyzed their patient series and prospectively assessed neuropsychological outcome and quality of life following resection of craniopharyngiomas in adults.

METHODS

In total, 71 patients (39 men and 32 women) with a mean age of 49 years were enrolled in the retrospective analysis. In addition, 36 of the 71 patients were included in the prospective arm of the study and underwent neurological and neuropsychological testing as well as quality of life (36-Item Short-Form Health Survey; SF-36) assessment. Factors influencing outcome were identified and correlations calculated.

RESULTS

Resection was performed mostly using a pterional (41.6%, 47/113 surgical procedures) or bifrontal translamina terminalis (30.1%, 34/113 surgical procedures) approach. Following surgery, visual acuity was significantly improved (> 0.2 diopters) in 32.4% (23/71) of patients, or remained stable in 45.1% (32/71) of patients. During long-term follow up, 80.3% (57/71) of patients developed pituitary insufficiency, particularly involving the corticotropic and thyrotrophic axes. In total, 75% (27/36) of patients showed neuropsychological deviations in at least 1 test item. In particular, attentiveness, cognitive speed, and short-term memory were affected. Referring to the SF-36 score, quality of life was affected in both the mental and physical score in 19.4% (7/36) and 33.3% (12/36), respectively. The risk factors that were identified were a tumor volume larger than 9 cm3, tumor extension toward/into the third ventricle or the brainstem, and resection using a bifrontal translamina terminalis or left-sided approach.

CONCLUSIONS

This study demonstrated that resection of craniopharyngiomas is frequently associated with postoperative neuropsychological deficits and hence an impaired quality of life. In addition to tumor size and extension toward/into the third ventricle or the brainstem, selection of the surgical approach may play a crucial role in the patient’s neuropsychological outcome and quality of life.

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Hermann Neugebauer, Jens Witsch, Klaus Zweckberger, and Eric Jüttler

Space-occupying brain edema is a frequent and one of the most dreaded complications in ischemic cerebellar stroke. Because the tight posterior fossa provides little compensating space, any space-occupying lesion can lead to life-threatening complications through brainstem compression or compression of the fourth ventricle and subsequent hydrocephalus, both of which may portend transtentorial/transforaminal herniation. Patients with large cerebellar infarcts should be treated and monitored very early on in an experienced stroke unit or (neuro)intensive care unit. The general treatment of ischemic cerebellar infarction does not differ from that of supratentorial ischemic strokes. Treatment strategies for space-occupying edema include pharmacological antiedema and intracranial pressure–lowering therapies, ventricular drainage by means of an extraventricular drain, and suboccipital decompressive surgery, with or without resection of necrotic tissue. Timely escalation of treatment is crucial and should be guided by clinical and neuroradiological rationales. Patients in a coma after hydrocephalus and/or local brainstem compression may also benefit from more aggressive surgical treatment, as long as the conditions are reversible. Contrary to the general belief that outcome in survivors of space-occupying cerebellar stroke is usually good, recent studies suggest that for many of these patients, the long-term outcome is not good. In particular, advanced age and additional brainstem infarction seem to be predictors for poor outcome. Further trials are necessary to investigate these findings systematically and provide better selection criteria to help guide decisions about surgical therapies, which should always be carried out in close cooperation among neurointensive care physicians, neurologists, and neurosurgeons.

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Klaus Zweckberger, Eveline Hallek, Lidia Vogt, Henrik Giese, Uta Schick, and Andreas W. Unterberg

OBJECTIVE

Resection of skull base tumors is challenging. The introduction of alternative treatment options, such as radiotherapy, has sparked discussion regarding outcome in terms of quality of life and neuropsychological deficits. So far, however, no prospective data are available on this topic.

METHODS

A total of 58 patients with skull base meningiomas who underwent surgery for the first time were enrolled in this prospective single-center trial. The average age of the patients was 56.4 ± 12.5 years. Seventy-nine percent of the tumors were located within the anterior skull base. Neurological examinations and neuropsychological testing were performed at 3 time points: 1 day prior to surgery (T1), 3–5 months after surgery (T2), and 9–12 months after surgery (T3). The average follow-up duration was 13.8 months. Neuropsychological assessment consisted of quality of life, depression and anxiety, verbal learning and memory, cognitive speed, attention and concentration, figural memory, and visual-motor speed.

RESULTS

Following surgery, 23% of patients showed transient neurological deficits and 12% showed permanent new neurological deficits with varying grades of manifestation. Postoperative quality of life, however, remained stable and was slightly improved at follow-up examinations at T3 (60.6 ± 21.5 vs 63.6 ± 24.1 points), and there was no observed effect on anxiety and depression. Long-term verbal memory, working memory, and executive functioning were slightly affected within the first months following surgery and appeared to be the most vulnerable to impairment by the tumor or the resection but were stable or improved in the majority of patients at long-term follow-up examinations after 1 year.

CONCLUSIONS

This report describes the first prospective study of neuropsychological outcomes following resection of skull base meningiomas and, as such, contributes to a better understanding of postoperative impairment in these patients. Despite deterioration in a minority of patients on subscales of the measures used, the majority demonstrated stable or improved outcome at follow-up assessments.

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Lennart Riemann, Daphne C. Voormolen, Katrin Rauen, Klaus Zweckberger, Andreas Unterberg, Alexander Younsi, and the Collaborative European NeuroTrauma Effectiveness Research in Traumatic Brain Injury (CENTER-TBI) Investigators and Participants

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this paper was to evaluate the prevalence of postconcussive symptoms and their relation to health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in pediatric and adolescent patients with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) who received head CT imaging during initial assessment.

METHODS

Patients aged between 5 and 21 years with mTBI (Glasgow Coma Scale scores 13–15) and available Rivermead Post Concussion Questionnaire (RPQ) at 6 months of follow-up in the multicenter, prospectively collected CENTER-TBI (Collaborative European NeuroTrauma Effectiveness Research in TBI) study were included. The prevalence of postconcussive symptoms was assessed, and the occurrence of postconcussive syndrome (PSC) based on the ICD-10 criteria, was analyzed. HRQOL was compared in patients with and without PCS using the Quality of Life after Brain Injury (QOLIBRI) questionnaire.

RESULTS

A total of 196 adolescent or pediatric mTBI patients requiring head CT imaging were included. High-energy trauma was prevalent in more than half of cases (54%), abnormalities on head CT scans were detected in 41%, and admission to the regular ward or intensive care unit was necessary in 78%. Six months postinjury, 36% of included patients had experienced at least one moderate or severe symptom on the RPQ. PCS was present in 13% of adolescents and children when considering symptoms of at least moderate severity, and those patients had significantly lower QOLIBRI total scores, indicating lower HRQOL, compared with young patients without PCS (57 vs 83 points, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Adolescent and pediatric mTBI patients requiring head CT imaging show signs of increased trauma severity. Postconcussive symptoms are present in up to one-third of those patients, and PCS can be diagnosed in 13% 6 months after injury. Moreover, PCS is significantly associated with decreased HRQOL.