Fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy for the treatment of optic nerve sheath meningiomas: preliminary observations of 33 optic nerves in 30 patients with historical comparison to observation with or without prior surgery

Neurosurgery. 2002 Oct;51(4):890-902; discussion 903-4. doi: 10.1097/00006123-200210000-00007.


Objective: We investigated the safety and efficacy of stereotactic radiotherapy as an alternative therapy to surgical resection for optic nerve sheath meningiomas (ONSMs).

Methods: Thirty patients and 33 optic nerves with ONSMs were treated with conventional fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy treatment (CF-SRT) between July 1996 and May 2001 with the use of a 6-MeV LINAC designed for and dedicated to radiosurgery. The LINAC technique involved daily CF-SRT involving a relocatable frame, an average of three isocenters, and high-radiation dose conformality established by noncoplanar arc beam shaping and differential beam weighting. The patients who were treated with CF-SRT were followed clinically with serial visual fields and radiographically with both magnetic resonance imaging and functional (111)In-octreotide single-photon emission computed tomography. The results of treatment were compared with a historical control group of ONSM patients who were either observed or treated surgically and then observed.

Results: Our study population comprised 18 women and 12 men with a median age of 44 years (age range, 20-76 yr). The median isosurface radiation dose was 51 Gy (dose range, 50-54.0 Gy), and the median clinical follow-up time was 89 weeks (range, 9-284 wk). Of 22 optic nerves with vision before CF-SRT, 20 nerves (92%) demonstrated preserved vision, and 42% manifested improvement in visual acuity and/or visual field at follow-up. Comparison of our patients with a historical control group revealed preserved vision in only 16% of patients in a comparable period of observation, along with a 150% greater probability of visual improvement. Four patients (13%) had posttreatment morbidities, including visual loss (two patients), optic neuritis (one patient), and transient orbital pain (one patient). On magnetic resonance imaging studies, there was no evidence of tumor progression or recurrence in all patients, including tumor volume reductions noted in four patients. All six patients monitored with (111)In-octreotide scintigraphy demonstrated significant decreases in tumor activity after CF-SRT.

Conclusion: To date, this article describes the largest reported series of ONSMs. Although longer follow-up is necessary, we think that CF-SRT represents a safe alternative to surgery and offers a higher likelihood of preserved or improved vision in patients with ONSM. Our analysis suggests that CF-SRT is also preferable to observation. Functional (111)In-octreotide single-photon emission computed tomographic scintigraphy provides a useful technique for the assessment of tumor control that complements serial posttreatment magnetic resonance imaging in patients with ONSMs.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Meningioma / complications
  • Meningioma / diagnosis
  • Meningioma / radiotherapy*
  • Meningioma / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Optic Nerve Neoplasms / complications
  • Optic Nerve Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Optic Nerve Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Optic Nerve Neoplasms / surgery
  • Radiation Tolerance
  • Retreatment
  • Stereotaxic Techniques*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vision Disorders / etiology
  • Vision Disorders / physiopathology
  • Visual Acuity
  • Visual Fields