Benign and Malignant Tumors of the Pineal Region

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2023:1405:153-173. doi: 10.1007/978-3-031-23705-8_6.


Pineal region tumors fall into five broad categories: benign pineal region tumors, glial tumors, papillary tumors, pineal parenchymal tumors, and germ cell tumors. Genetic and transcriptional studies have identified key chromosomal alterations in germinomas (RUNDC3A, ASAH1, LPL) and in pineocytomas/pineoblastomas (DROSHA/DICER1, RB1). Pineal region tumors generally present with symptoms of hydrocephalus including nausea, vomiting, papilledema, and the classical Parinaud's triad of upgaze paralysis, convergence-retraction nystagmus, and light-near pupillary dissociation. Workup requires neuroimaging and tissue diagnosis via biopsy. In germinoma cases, diagnosis may be made based on serum or CSF studies for alpha-fetoprotein or beta-HCG making the preferred treatment radiosurgery, thereby preventing the need for unnecessary surgeries. Treatment generally involves three steps: CSF diversion in cases of hydrocephalus, biopsy through endoscopic or stereotactic methods, and open surgical resection. Multiple surgical approaches are possible for approach to the pineal region. The original approach to the pineal region was the interhemispheric transcallosal first described by Dandy. The most common approach is the supracerebellar infratentorial approach as it utilizes a natural anatomic corridor for access to the pineal region. The paramedian or lateral supracerebellar infratentorial approach is another improvement that uses a similar anatomic corridor but allows for preservation of midline bridging veins; this minimizes the chance for brainstem or cerebellar venous infarction. Determination of the optimal approach relies on tumor characteristics, namely location of deep venous structures to the tumor along with the lateral eccentricity of the tumor. The immediate post-operative period is important as hemorrhage or swelling can cause obstructive hydrocephalus and lead to rapid deterioration. Adjuvant therapy, whether chemotherapy or radiation, is based on tumor pathology. Improvements within pineal surgery will require improved technology for access to the pineal region along with targeted therapies that can effectively treat and prevent recurrence of malignant pineal region tumors.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Histopathology; Pineal gland; Pineal region tumors; Surgical approaches.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Brain Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms* / surgery
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases
  • Glioma* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus* / pathology
  • Pineal Gland* / pathology
  • Pineal Gland* / surgery
  • Pinealoma* / diagnosis
  • Pinealoma* / genetics
  • Pinealoma* / surgery
  • Ribonuclease III


  • DICER1 protein, human
  • Ribonuclease III
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases