Metastases to the pituitary gland and cavernous sinus occasionally occur. Metastases of this nature are problematic because they are adjacent to eloquent structures such as cranial nerves, including the optic pathways and nerves for extraocular movement and facial sensation. Stereotactic radiosurgery has been reported to be safe and effective for metastases in various sites of brain parenchyma, providing the tumors are not large. Radiosurgery can be performed to treat a precisely defined target, and the risk of radiation side effects on the surrounding structures is reduced. The results of Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) for the treatment of metastases in the pituitary gland and the cavernous sinus are evaluated.
Among 623 patients with brain metastases treated by GKS, 13 patients (2.1%) had pituitary and/or cavernous metastases. The primary malignancies included lung cancer (five cases), breast cancer (two cases), parotid cancer (two cases), renal cell carcinoma, thyroid cancer, nasal cancer, and gastrointestinal stromal tumor (one case each). The location of the tumors was the pituitary gland (Type 1) in four patients, the cavernous sinus (Type 2) in five patients, and both the cavernous sinus and the sellar region (Type 3) in four patients. The patients' symptoms included dysfunction of the pituitary gland (two patients), visual disturbance (four patients), oculomotor palsy (one patient), abducent palsy (five patients), and trigeminal dysfunction (five patients). A margin dose of 12 to 12.3 Gy was delivered to pituitary metastases. A margin dose of 14.4 to 20 Gy was delivered to cavernous lesions. The dose selection depended on the spatial relationship between tumors and the cranial nerves. Imaging and clinical follow-up data have been obtained in nine of 13 patients for 2 to 12 months (median 4 months) after GKS. Three pituitary and/or cavernous tumors are stable in size, and six tumors have disappeared or decreased in size; full or partial improvement of visual function, extraocular movement, and facial sensation have been achieved in these six patients.
These preliminary results seem to indicate that GKS is a safe and effective treatment for pituitary and cavernous metastases, as it is effective for parenchymal metastases and promptly improved some patients' symptoms.