Critical appraisal of minimally invasive keyhole surgery for intracranial meningioma in a large case series

PLoS One. 2022 Jul 28;17(7):e0264053. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0264053. eCollection 2022.


Background: Meningioma surgery has evolved over the last 20 years with increased use of minimally invasive approaches including the endoscopic endonasal route and endoscope-assisted and gravity-assisted transcranial approaches. As the "keyhole" concept remains controversial, we present detailed outcomes in a cohort series.

Methods: Retrospective analysis was done for all patients undergoing meningioma removal at a tertiary brain tumor referral center from 2008-2021. Keyhole approaches were defined as: use of a minimally invasive "retractorless" approach for a given meningioma in which a traditional larger approach is often used instead. The surgical goal was maximal safe removal including conservative (subtotal) removal for some invasive locations. Primary outcomes were resection rates, complications, length of stay and Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS). Secondary outcomes were endoscopy use, perioperative treatments, tumor control and acute MRI FLAIR/T2 changes to assess for brain manipulation and retraction injury.

Results: Of 329 patients, keyhole approaches were utilized in 193(59%) patients (mean age 59±13; 30 (15.5%) had prior surgery) who underwent 213 operations; 205(96%) were skull base location. Approaches included: endoscopic endonasal (n = 74,35%), supraorbital (n = 73,34%), retromastoid (n = 38,18%), mini-pterional (n = 20,9%), suboccipital (n = 4,2%), and contralateral transfalcine (n = 4,2%). Primary outcomes: Gross total/near total (>90%) resection was achieved in 125(59%) (5% for petroclival, cavernous sinus/Meckel's cave, spheno-cavernous locations vs 77% for all other locations). Major complications included: permanent neurological worsening 12(6%), CSF leak 2(1%) meningitis 2(1%). There were no DVTs, PEs, MIs or 30-day mortality. Median LOS decreased from 3 to 2 days in the last 2 years; 94% were discharged to home with favorable 90-day KPS in 176(96%) patients. Secondary outcomes: Increased FLAIR/T2 changes were noted on POD#1/2 MRI in 36/213(17%) cases, resolving in all but 11 (5.2%). Endoscopy was used in 87/139(63%) craniotomies, facilitating additional tumor removal in 55%. Tumor progression occurred in 26(13%) patients, mean follow-up 42±36 months.

Conclusions & relevance: Our experience suggests minimally invasive keyhole transcranial and endoscopic endonasal meningioma removal is associated with comparable resection rates and low complication rates, short hospitalizations and high 90-day performance scores in comparison to prior reports using traditional skull base approaches. Subtotal removal may be appropriate for invasive/adherent meningiomas to avoid neurological deficits and other post-operative complications, although longer follow-up is needed. With careful patient selection and requisite experience, these approaches may be considered reasonable alternatives to traditional transcranial approaches.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Meningeal Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Meningeal Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Meningeal Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Meningioma* / diagnostic imaging
  • Meningioma* / pathology
  • Meningioma* / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurosurgical Procedures
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skull Base Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Treatment Outcome

Grants and funding

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.