Objective: Cavernous sinus hemangiomas (CSHs) are uncommon lesions and comprise fewer than 1% of all parasellar masses. Because of their location, propensity for profuse bleeding during surgery, and relationship to complex neurovascular structures, they are notoriously difficult to excise.
Clinical presentation: The authors describe their experience with seven cases of CSHs. Headache and visual impairment were the most common presenting complaints, followed by facial hypesthesia and diplopia. Computed tomographic scans revealed iso- to hyperdense expansile lesions in the region of the cavernous sinus and middle cranial fossa. Magnetic resonance imaging scans revealed hypo- to isointense lesions on T1-weighted images and markedly hyperintense lesions on T2-weighted images, with marked homogeneous enhancement after contrast administration.
Intervention: All CSHs were treated by a purely extradural transcavernous approach. This involved reduction of sphenoid ridge, exposure of the superior orbital fissure, drilling of the anterior clinoid process, coagulation and division of the middle meningeal artery, and peeling of the meningeal layer of the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus from the inner membranous layer. The cranial nerves in the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus were exposed (Cranial Nerves III and IV, as well as V1, V2, and V3). The tumor was accessed through its maximum bulge through either the lateral or anterolateral triangle. The tumor was removed via rapid decompression, coagulation of the feeder from the meningohypophyseal trunk, and dissection along the cranial nerves. All but one patient had complete tumor excision. Transient ophthalmoparesis (complete resolution in 6-8 wk) was the most common surgical complication.
Conclusion: To our knowledge, we describe one of the largest series of pure extradural transcavernous approaches to CSHs. CSHs are uncommon but challenging cranial base lesions. The extradural transcavernous approach allows complete excision with minimal mortality or long-term morbidity.