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Gautam U. Mehta, Franco DeMonte, Shirley Y. Su, Michael E. Kupferman, Ehab Y. Hanna and Shaan M. Raza

Chondrosarcomas of the skull base are malignant tumors for which surgery is the primary therapeutic option. Gross-total resection has been demonstrated to improve survival in patients with these tumors. Chondrosarcomas arising from the petroclival synchondrosis harbor particularly unique anatomical considerations that have long been a barrier to achieving such a resection. Endoscopic endonasal transpterygoid approaches have been recently used to gain improved access to such lesions; however, these approaches have classically relied on a medial to lateral transclival trajectory, which provides limited exposure for complete resection of lateral disease. In this paper the authors describe an endoscopic endonasal transpterygoid transnasopharyngeal approach that provides comprehensive access to the petroclival region through dissection of the eustachian tube with resection of the cartilaginous torus tubarius. Of note, the authors have previously demonstrated the superior outcomes and validity of this approach relative to other cranial base techniques for petroclival chondrosarcomas. Surgical outcomes in 5 cases of chondrosarcoma without medial extension are detailed. Gross-total resection was achieved in 4 of 5 patients. Postoperative complications included transient palatal numbness in all patients and eustachian tube dysfunction due to the approach. With tympanostomy tube placement, no patient had persistent hearing loss. Overall, this approach appears to be a safe and effective technique for resection of petroclival chondrosarcomas.

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Jack Phan, Courtney Pollard III, Paul D. Brown, Nandita Guha-Thakurta, Adam S. Garden, David I. Rosenthal, Clifton D. Fuller, Steven J. Frank, G. Brandon Gunn, William H. Morrison, Jennifer C. Ho, Jing Li, Amol J. Ghia, James N. Yang, Dershan Luo, He C. Wang, Shirley Y. Su, Shaan M. Raza, Paul W. Gidley, Ehab Y. Hanna and Franco DeMonte

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to assess outcomes after Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS) re-irradiation for palliation of patients with trigeminal pain secondary to recurrent malignant skull base tumors.

METHODS

From 2009 to 2016, 26 patients who had previously undergone radiation treatment to the head and neck received GKRS for palliation of trigeminal neuropathic pain secondary to recurrence of malignant skull base tumors. Twenty-two patients received single-fraction GKRS to a median dose of 17 Gy (range 15–20 Gy) prescribed to the 50% isodose line (range 43%–55%). Four patients received fractionated Gamma Knife Extend therapy to a median dose of 24 Gy in 3 fractions (range 21–27 Gy) prescribed to the 50% isodose line (range 45%–50%). Those with at least a 3-month follow-up were assessed for symptom palliation. Self-reported pain was evaluated by the numeric rating scale (NRS) and MD Anderson Symptom Inventory–Head and Neck (MDASI-HN) pain score. Frequency of as-needed (PRN) analgesic use and opioid requirement were also assessed. Baseline opioid dose was reported as a fentanyl-equivalent dose (FED) and PRN for breakthrough pain use as oral morphine-equivalent dose (OMED). The chi-square and Student t-tests were used to determine differences before and after GKRS.

RESULTS

Seven patients (29%) were excluded due to local disease progression. Two experienced progression at the first follow-up, and 5 had local recurrence from disease outside the GKRS volume. Nineteen patients were assessed for symptom palliation with a median follow-up duration of 10.4 months (range 3.0–34.4 months). At 3 months after GKRS, the NRS scores (n = 19) decreased from 4.65 ± 3.45 to 1.47 ± 2.11 (p < 0.001); MDASI-HN pain scores (n = 13) decreased from 5.02 ± 1.68 to 2.02 ± 1.54 (p < 0.01); scheduled FED (n = 19) decreased from 62.4 ± 102.1 to 27.9 ± 45.5 mcg/hr (p < 0.01); PRN OMED (n = 19) decreased from 43.9 ± 77.5 to 10.9 ± 20.8 mg/day (p = 0.02); and frequency of any PRN analgesic use (n = 19) decreased from 0.49 ± 0.55 to 1.33 ± 0.90 per day (p = 0.08). At 6 months after GKRS, 9 (56%) of 16 patients reported being pain free (NRS score 0), with 6 (67%) of the 9 being both pain free and not requiring analgesic medications. One patient treated early in our experience developed a temporary increase in trigeminal pain 3–4 days after GKRS requiring hospitalization. All subsequently treated patients were given a single dose of intravenous steroids immediately after GKRS followed by a 2–3-week oral steroid taper. No further cases of increased or new pain after treatment were observed after this intervention.

CONCLUSIONS

GKRS for palliation of trigeminal pain secondary to recurrent malignant skull base tumors demonstrated a significant decrease in patient-reported pain and opioid requirement. Additional patients and a longer follow-up duration are needed to assess durability of symptom relief and local control.