The goal of this study was to assess the clinical and pathological features of benign brain tumors that had been treated with Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) followed by resection.
In this retrospective chart review, the authors identified 61 patients with intracranial benign tumors who had undergone neurosurgical intervention after GKS. Of these 61 patients, 27 were male and 34 were female; mean age was 49.1 years (range 19–73 years). There were 24 meningiomas, 18 schwannomas, 14 pituitary adenomas, 3 hemangioblastomas, and 2 craniopharyngiomas. The interval between GKS and craniotomy was 2–168 months, with a median of 24 months; for 7 patients, the interval was 10 years or longer. For 21 patients, a craniotomy was performed before and after GKS; in 9 patients, pathological specimens were obtained before and after GKS. A total of 29 patients underwent GKS at the Beijing Tiantan Hospital. All specimens obtained by surgical intervention underwent histopathological examination.
Most patients underwent craniotomy because of tumor recurrence and/or exacerbation of clinical signs and symptoms. Neuroimaging analyses indicated tumor growth in 42 patients, hydrocephalus in 10 patients with vestibular schwannoma, cystic formation with mass effect in 7 patients, and tumor hemorrhage in 13 patients, of whom 10 had pituitary adenoma. Pathological examination demonstrated that, regardless of the type of tumor, GKS mainly induced coagulative necrosis of tumor parenchyma and stroma with some apoptosis and, ultimately, scar formation. In addition, irradiation induced vasculature stenosis and occlusion and tumor degeneration as a result of reduced blood supply. GKS-induced vasculature reaction was rarely observed in patients with pituitary adenoma. Pathological analysis of tumor specimens obtained before and after GKS did not indicate increased tumor proliferation after GKS.
Radiosurgery is effective for intracranial benign tumors of small size and deep location and for tumor recurrence after surgical intervention; it is not effective for intracranial tumors with symptomatic mass effect. The radiobiological effects of stereotactic radiosurgery on the benign tumors are mainly caused by cellular and vascular mechanisms. Among the patients in this study, high-dose irradiation did not increase tumor proliferation. GKS can induce primary and secondary effects in tumors, which could last more than 10 years, thereby warranting long-term follow-up after GKS.