Object. The goal of this study was to elucidate the role of gamma knife radiosurgery (GKS) and adjuvant stereotactic procedures by assessing the outcome of 31 consecutive patients harboring craniopharyngiomas treated between March 1993 and December 1999.
Methods. There were 31 consecutive patients with craniopharyngiomas: 18 were men and 13 were women. The mean age was 32 years (range 3–69 years). The mean tumor volume was 9 cm3 (range 0.3–28 cm3). The prescription dose to the tumor margin varied from 9.5 to 16 Gy. The visual pathways received 8 Gy or less. Three patients underwent stereotactic aspiration to decompress the cystic component before GKS. The tumor response was classified by percentage reduction of tumor volume as calculated based on magnetic resonance imaging studies. Clinical outcome was evaluated according to improvement and dependence on replacement therapy.
An initial postoperative volume increase with enlargement of a cystic component was found in three patients. They were treated by adjuvant stereotactic aspiration and/or Ommaya reservoir implantation. Tumor control was achieved in 87% of patients and 84% had fair to excellent clinical outcome in an average follow-up period of 36 months. Treatment failure due to uncontrolled tumor progression was seen in four patients at 26, 33, 49, and 55 months, respectively, after GKS. Only one patient was found to have a mildly restricted visual field; no additional endocrinological impairment or neurological deterioration could be attributed to the treatment. There was no treatment-related mortality.
Conclusions. Multimodality management of patients with craniopharyngiomas seemed to provide a better quality of patient survival and greater long-term tumor control. It is suggested that GKS accompanied by adjuvant stereotactic procedures should be used as an alternative in treating recurrent or residual craniopharyngiomas if further microsurgical excision cannot promise a cure.