Surgical treatment of solitary brain metastases

Prog Neurol Surg. 2012:25:74-81. doi: 10.1159/000331178. Epub 2012 Jan 6.


Brain metastases are the most common form of brain tumors and are diagnosed in about 40% of all patients with systemic malignancies. Although the percentage of solitary brain metastases has dropped in recent estimates from about 50-30% of all patients with brain metastases, this percentage still represents a significant number of patients, and the overall incidence of brain metastases is still on the rise. Historically, brain metastases carried a grim prognosis with a median survival of only a few weeks. The utilization of whole-brain radiation therapy (WBRT) and steroids improved the prognosis to few months. However, it was not until the advent of advanced surgical techniques in conjunction with other treatment modalities such as WBRT and stereotactic radiosurgery that patients became less likely to succumb to neurological complications. In the last few decades, surgical resection has evolved from a mere emergent palliative treatment to a standard treatment modality that has led to improved clinical outcomes in carefully selected patients with brain metastases. This positive contribution has been made possible by randomized clinical trials, advancement of surgical techniques and tools, imaging modalities, and better understanding of the pathophysiology and perioperative care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cranial Irradiation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Neurosurgery / trends*
  • Radiosurgery / methods*