Individualized surgical strategies for Rathke cleft cyst based on cyst location

Clinical article

Jun Fan M.D., Ph.D., Yuping Peng M.D., Ph.D., Songtao Qi M.D., Ph.D., Xi-an Zhang M.D., Ph.D., Binghui Qiu M.D., Ph.D., and Jun Pan M.D., Ph.D.
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  • Department of Neurosurgery, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China
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Object

An assessment regarding both surgical approaches and the extent of resection for Rathke cleft cysts (RCCs) based on their locations has not been reported. The aim of this study was to report the results of a large series of surgically treated patients with RCCs and to evaluate the feasibility of individualized surgical strategies for different RCCs.

Methods

We retrospectively reviewed 87 cases involving patients with RCCs (16 intrasellar, 50 intra- and suprasellar, and 21 purely suprasellar lesions). Forty-nine patients were treated via a transsphenoidal (TS) approach, and 38 were treated via a transcranial (TC) approach (traditional craniotomy in 21 cases and supraorbital keyhole craniotomy in 17). The extent of resection was classified as gross-total resection (GTR) or subtotal resection (STR) of the cyst wall. Patients were thus divided into 3 groups according to the approach selected and the extent of resection: TS/STR (n = 49), TC/STR (n = 23), and TC/GTR (n = 15).

Results

Preoperative headaches, visual dysfunction, hypopituitarism, and diabetes insipidus (DI) resolved in 85%, 95%, 55%, and 65% of patients, respectively. These rates did not differ significantly among the 3 groups. Overall, complications occurred in 8% of patients in TS/STR group, 9% in TC/STR group, and 47% in TC/GTR group, respectively (p = 0.002). Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage (3%), new hypopituitarism (9%), and DI (6%) were observed after surgery. All CSF leaks occurred in the endonasal group, while the TC/GTR group showed a higher rate of postoperative hypopituitarism (p = 0.7 and p < 0.001, respectively). It should be particularly noted that preoperative hypopituitarism and DI returned to normal, respectively, in 100% and 83% of patients who underwent supraorbital surgery, and with the exception of 1 patient who had transient postoperative DI, there were no complications in patients treated with supraorbital surgery. Kaplan-Meier 3-year recurrence-free rates were 84%, 87%, and 86% in the TS/STR, TC/STR, and TC/GTR groups, respectively (p = 0.9).

Conclusions

It is reasonable to adopt individualized surgical strategies for RCCs based on cyst location. Gross-total resection does not appear to reduce the recurrence rate but increase the risk of postoperative complications. The endonasal approach seems more appropriate for primarily intrasellar RCCs, while the craniotomy is recommended for purely or mainly suprasellar cysts. The supraorbital route appears to be preferred over traditional craniotomy for its minimal invasiveness and favorable outcomes. The endoscopic technique is helpful for either endonasal or supraorbital surgery.

Abbreviations used in this paper:

DI = diabetes insipidus; GTR = gross-total resection; RCC = Rathke cleft cyst; STR = subtotal resection; TC = transcranial; TS = transsphenoidal.

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