Objectives: Despite revolutionary technical advancement in neuroimaging and operative neurosurgery, surgical extirpation of focal brainstem glioma (BSG) remains steeped in controversy. In this study, we evaluated our senior author's (CT) surgical experience in radically treating these tumours in children to determine the safety and efficacy of such approach.
Materials and methods: Thirty-four consecutive patients aged between 3 and 16 years who underwent endoscope-assisted microsurgery for focal BSG with the intent of radial resection from 1999 to 2005 were evaluated. The clinical outcome at 6 months and long-term survival were analysed.
Conclusion: Thirty-one patients had >90% tumour resection and the remainder had >50%. There was no perioperative mortality. The average follow-up was 46 months. Twenty-three patients (74%) harboured low-grade gliomas, whilst the remainder (26%) had high-grade gliomas. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis revealed marked difference in the 5-year survival rates between the two groups (100% vs 33%). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that the degree of tumour resection was not associated with poor outcome at 6 months. This series underscores the benefits of surgical resection for focal BSG. Radical resection can be achieved in a majority of patients with favourable outcome regardless of tumour pathology.