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Surgical Treatment of Craniopharyngiomas: An Evaluation of the Transsphenoidal and Pterional Approaches

Maira, Giulio M.D.; Anile, Carmelo M.D.; Rossi, Gian Franco M.D.; Colosimo, Cesare M.D.

Surgical Approaches

FIFTY-SEVEN PATIENTS WITH craniopharyngiomas underwent a total of 64 operations. Their clinical follow-up ranged from 2.5 to 15.5 years, with a mean follow-up of 6.5 years. A transsphenoidal approach was used in 35 patients (61%), whereas 22 (39%) were operated on using a pterional approach (in 16 patients, the tumor was found in the suprasellar cisterns, and in 6, the tumor was found in the third ventricle and was removed passing through the lamina terminalis). Total removal of the tumor was achieved in 43 patients (75%). In six patients (11%), fragments of the capsule remained attached to the hypothalamus (subtotal removal), and, in eight patients (14%), the tumor was partially removed. No recurrence occurred in those patients in whom removal was total. Regrowth was observed in two patients (33%) in whom removal was subtotal and in two (25%) in whom removal was partial. Three of them underwent subsequent operations, and a total removal with good clinical outcome was achieved. All patients except two had good postoperative recovery. Twenty patients (35%) required hormonal replacement therapy. When transsphenoidal surgery was used, a total removal of the tumors was achieved in 23 (66%) of the patients. Good clinical outcome was seen in all 35 patients. Six patients (17%) required hormonal replacement therapy. When the pterional approach was used for tumors in the suprasellar cisterns, we achieved total removal of tumors in 15 patients (94%). Good clinical outcome was seen in 20 patients (91%). Eleven patients (50%) required hormonal replacement therapy. After a period of time (from 45 d to many years), three patients died, one because of a pulmonary embolism and two because of diencephalic insufficiency. Using the translamina terminalis approach, we achieved a total removal of intraventricular tumors in five (83%) of six cases, with good clinical outcome in five; hormonal replacement therapy was necessary in three patients, and death caused by diencephalic insufficiency occurred in one patient after several months.

Institute of Neurosurgery, University of Perugia (GM) and Institutes of Neurosurgery (CA, GFR) and Radiology (CC), Catholic University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Reprint requests: Prof. Giulio Maira, M.D., viale Mazzini 88, 00195 Roma, Italia.

Received, December 31, 1993. Accepted, September 13, 1994.

Copyright © by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons