Author(s): Black PM
BACKGROUND: Recent study series have reported that post-operative external beam radiation therapy and stereotactic radiosurgery with the linear accelerator or gamma knife improves long-term local control of subtotally resected or recurrent meningiomas.
METHODS: Analysis of treatment results in 100 consecutive patients with skull base meningiomas managed by one surgeon with a median follow-up of five years. Treatment principles included observation for asymptomatic tumors; surgery for progressive or symptomatic tumors unless surgery was medically contraindicated or refused by the patient; to make surgery as aggressive as possible but with the goal of preserving full function of the patient; and to use radiosurgery or conformal fractionated radiation therapy if residual tumor was demonstrated. Preoperative, postoperative, and observational data were prospectively accumulated and stored in a large database system. Median follow up was 5 years with a range from 2 to 10 years.
FINDINGS: The most frequent presenting symptoms were headache (45%) and changes in vision (29%). Cranial nerve deficits (49%) and cerebellar signs (24%) were the most common physical findings. Seventy-two patients had surgical resection. Of these, 93% had greater than 50% resection and 47% had radiographically complete resection. There were no perioperative deaths and there were five surgical complications for a rate of 7%. Complications included hemiparesis (2.8%), new cranial nerve palsy (2.8%), and indolent osteomyelitis (1.4%). Fifteen patients had observation only; none of who progressed. Thirteen patients had radiation only, primarily because of patient preference or medical contraindications to surgery in the setting of substantial symptoms. There were no complications of this therapy. With a median five-year follow-up, only one patient (1%) demonstrated tumor progression using the treatment paradigm outlined here.
INTERPRETATION: These results demonstrate that skull base meningiomas which require treatment can be managed with a combination of aggressive surgery and conformal radiation with an acceptable functional status in 99% of cases.