Surgical resection of osteolytic calvarial lesions: clinicopathological features

Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2010 Dec;112(10):865-9. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2010.07.010. Epub 2010 Aug 3.


Objective: Osteolytic calvarial lesions are infrequent findings. Some cases are found incidentally during cancer staging or subsequent to unspecific symptoms. There are no standardized algorithms for the treatment of such lesions. Thus, the aim of this study was to describe the clinicopathological features and surgical outcome in various osteolytic calvarial lesions.

Material and methods: The clinical presentation, radiological imaging findings, surgical treatment and histopathological findings of 36 patients who underwent surgery for an osteolytic calvarial lesion at our institution between 1998 and 2008 were reviewed.

Results: Thirty-six osteolytic calvarial lesions were identified in 20 men and 16 women. Mean age at diagnosis was 37 years. Ten patients were children younger than 15 years. Five lesions were detected during cancer staging. Complete removal of the calvarial lesions was achieved in all patients without complications. The most common histopathological diagnosis was metastasis (n=9), Langerhans-cell histiocytosis (n=9), and intraosseous hemangioma (n=5). In two asymptomatic patients, histopathological findings revealed metastases of a previously unknown tumor. In two other patients known to suffer from cancer, histopathological findings indicated intraosseous hemangioma and intraosseous meningioma, respectively. Reconstruction of the calvarial defect was performed in 24 cases with poly-methyl-methacrylate and with titanium mesh in 1 case.

Conclusions: Osteolytic calvarial lesions can be found in any age group. The histopathological examination reveals various entities, and in some instances it was not concurrent with a primary malignancy. Because surgical morbidity is low, we recommend complete resection of osteolytic calvarial lesions with reconstruction when feasible.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Hemangioma, Cavernous, Central Nervous System / pathology
  • Hemangioma, Cavernous, Central Nervous System / surgery
  • Histiocytosis, Langerhans-Cell / pathology
  • Histiocytosis, Langerhans-Cell / surgery
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteolysis / etiology
  • Osteolysis / pathology
  • Osteolysis / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skull / pathology
  • Skull / surgery*
  • Skull Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Skull Neoplasms / secondary
  • Skull Neoplasms / surgery
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult