Revisiting Surgery in the Current Era of Gamma Knife for Cavernous Sinus Lesions

Neurol India. Mar-Apr 2022;70(2):563-573. doi: 10.4103/0028-3886.344638.


Background: The challenges associated with surgeries of cavernous sinus (CS) lesions have shifted the management trend towards upfront gamma knife radiosurgery (GKRS). Although GKRS is effective in arresting the progression of certain small residual/recurrent lesions, its efficacy in alleviating neurological deficits is less evident. Furthermore, GKRS without establishing the histopathological diagnosis, at times can be detrimental.

Objective: We present our clinical experience to reemphasize the role of surgery for CS lesions in the current era of upfront GKRS.

Materials and methods: We reviewed our database of 32 patients with various CS lesions treated by surgery for progressive cranial nerve deficits. The follow-up data were analyzed for the extent of resection, and in particular for improvement in their symptoms.

Results: The lesions were confirmed as hemangioma (CSH)-8, meningioma-8, trigeminal schwannoma-6, chordoma-3, residual pituitary with CS extension-3, fungal granuloma-3, and dysgerminoma-1. Symptoms improved in 23 (complete in 13) and remained at least static in six patients. Follow-up ranged from 4-36 months.

Conclusions: The nature of pathology should determine the management modality in CS lesions. Excision of CS schwannomas and chordomas yields rapid clinical improvement and good long-term outcomes. Resection is preferred for large CSH and functioning pituitary tumors. Although the clinical improvement may be less dramatic, surgery debulks the meningiomas. Most importantly, surgery also establishes the histopathological diagnosis of CS lesions. Even with an easy alternative of upfront GKRS, resection has a definite role in the primary management of most CS pathologies.

Keywords: Cavernous sinus; cavernous sinus hemangioma; chordoma; cranial nerve; gamma knife; meningioma; pituitary; schwannoma.

MeSH terms

  • Cavernous Sinus* / pathology
  • Cavernous Sinus* / surgery
  • Chordoma* / surgery
  • Cranial Nerve Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Meningeal Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Meningioma* / pathology
  • Meningioma* / radiotherapy
  • Meningioma* / surgery
  • Neurilemmoma* / pathology
  • Radiosurgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome