Surgical management of carcinomas of the infratemporal fossa and skull base: patterns of failure and predictors of long-term outcomes

J Neurosurg. 2020 Jun 12;134(5):1392-1398. doi: 10.3171/2020.3.JNS192630.


Objective: Infratemporal fossa (ITF) tumors are unique in histological characteristics and difficult to treat. Predictors of patient outcomes in this context are not known. The objective of this study was to identify independent predictors of outcome and to characterize patterns of failure in patients with ITF carcinoma.

Methods: All patients who had been surgically treated for anterolateral skull base malignancy between 1999 and 2017 at the authors' institution were retrospectively reviewed. Patient demographics, preoperative performance status, tumor stage, tumor characteristics, treatment modalities, and pathological data were collected. Primary outcomes were disease-specific survival (DSS) and local progression-free survival (LPFS) rates. Overall survival (OS) and patterns of progression were secondary outcomes.

Results: Forty ITF malignancies with skull base involvement were classified as carcinoma. Negative margins were achieved in 23 patients (58%). Median DSS and LPFS were 32 and 12 months, respectively. Five-year DSS and OS rates were 55% and 36%, respectively. The 5-year LPFS rate was 69%. The 5-year overall PFS rate was 53%. Disease recurrence was noted in 28% of patients. Age, preoperative performance status, and margin status were statistically significant prognostic factors for DSS. Lower preoperative performance status and positive surgical margins increased the probability of local recurrence.

Conclusions: The ability to achieve negative margins was significantly associated with improved tumor control rates and DSS. Cranial base surgical approaches must be considered in multimodal treatment regimens for anterolateral skull base carcinomas.

Keywords: anterolateral skull base; cancer; carcinoma; infratemporal fossa; oncology; recurrence; skull base; surgery; survival.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Carcinoma / surgery*
  • Carcinoma / therapy
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infratemporal Fossa / diagnostic imaging
  • Infratemporal Fossa / surgery*
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Margins of Excision
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Organoplatinum Compounds / therapeutic use
  • Prognosis
  • Progression-Free Survival
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skull Base Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Skull Base Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Skull Base Neoplasms / therapy
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Failure
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Organoplatinum Compounds