✓ In the past, neurosurgeons have been reluctant to operate on tumors involving the cavernous sinus because of the possibility of bleeding from the venous plexus or injury to the internal carotid artery (ICA) or the third, fourth, or sixth cranial nerves. The authors describe techniques for a more aggressive surgical approach to neoplasms in this area that are either benign or locally confined malignant lesions.
During the last 2 years, seven tumors involving the cavernous sinus have been resected: six totally and one subtotally. The preoperative evaluation included axial and coronal computerized tomography, cerebral angiography, and a balloon-occlusion test of the ICA. Intraoperative monitoring of the third, fourth, sixth, and seventh cranial nerves was used to assist in locating the nerves and in avoiding injury to them. The first major step in the operative procedure was to obtain proximal control of the ICA at the petrous apex and distal control in the supraclinoid segment. The cavernous sinus was then opened by a lateral, superior, or inferior approach for tumor resection. Temporary clipping and suture of the ICA was necessary in one patient.
None of the patients died or suffered a stroke postoperatively. Permanent trigeminal nerve injury occurred in three patients; in two, this was the result of tumor invasion. One patient suffered temporary paralysis of the third, fourth, and sixth cranial nerves, and in another the sixth cranial nerve was temporarily paralyzed. Preoperative cranial nerve deficits were improved postoperatively in three patients. Radiation therapy was administered postoperatively to four patients. These seven patients have been followed for 6 to 18 months to date and none has shown evidence of recurrence of the intracavernous tumor.