Objective: Management of cranial base tumors requires an interdisciplinary approach. Supraselective angiography and embolization is an important adjunct to cranial base surgery. Though successful embolization facilitates resection, the morbidity of this procedure remains poorly defined. Therefore, we set out to define the morbidity associated with embolization of skull base meningiomas, thus allowing for informed decision making when considering this adjunct to tumor resection.
Methods: A retrospective analysis was performed on our experience with embolization of 167 cranial base meningiomas. Cranial base meningiomas were defined as tumors originating from the olfactory groove, tuberculum sella, medial sphenoid wing, petro-clival region or foramen magnum.
Results: 280 feeding vessels were embolized with an average of 1.7 vessels per lesion. In 91% of patients embolized, good to excellent embolization was achieved without permanent neurological sequelae. In 20 patients no embolization was attempted due to the risk of new neurologic deficits or lack of an appropriate vessel for embolization. Twenty-one patients (12.6%) had transient worsening of their neurologic exam or a medical complication requiring hospitalization. Fifteen patients (9%) experienced permanent neurologic deficits or medical morbidity as a result of embolization. Four of the patients who experienced major complications had a decline in previously compromised cranial nerve function.
Conclusions: Embolization of cranial base tumors is an important part of the therapeutic armamentarium for the treatment of cranial base lesions. Recognition of the morbidity of this procedure will allow for the most appropriate use of this powerful adjunct to cranial base surgery.