Intracranial extracerebral cavernous angiomas (ECCAs) share the same histologic features as intracerebral lesions, but their clinical picture is different. Surgical treatment of ECCAs of the cavernous sinus remains a challenge for the neurosurgeon because of a high mortality and morbidity due to uncontrollable and massive hemorrhage.
Methods: We have experienced seven patients with ECCAs of the cavernous sinus between 1982 and 1994. All cases were verified histologically during surgery and two were totally resected during the first surgical attempt. Six of seven patients were female. The mean age at diagnosis was 54.5 years (range; 43 to 71 years).
Results: Computed tomography showed a round or dumbbell-shaped mass in the area of the cavernous sinus. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a low to isointense mass lesion on the T1-weighted image. Only one of our patients showed a minimal amount of vascular staining on angiography. The total excision of these malformations was difficult because intraoperative bleeding could be profuse. In one case, radiation therapy induced a reduction in the size of the tumor after failure of surgical removal.
Conclusions: In planning surgical strategy for ECCAs, care should be taken to control the massive bleeding. Radiation therapy is helpful to suppress the tumor growth.