Objective: We have undertaken a retrospective analysis of 38 patients who were operated on for 40 meningiomas of the craniocervical junction between September 1977 and August 1995 to determine which factors influenced resectability, complications, and postoperative outcomes.
Methods: Radiological examinations, clinical data, and operation notes were evaluated, and additional follow-up information was obtained from outpatient examinations, telephone calls, and questionnaires.
Results: Four groups could be distinguished according to dural attachment as follows: 1) 15 spinocranial meningiomas originated from the spinal canal and extended intracranially; 25 craniocervical meningiomas of intracranial origin were divided into 2) meningiomas of the lower clivus (10 patients with 11 tumors), 3) lateral meningiomas (11 patients with 12 tumors), and 4) posterior meningiomas (2 patients). Standard midline or lateral suboccipital approaches with opening of the foramen magnum and laminectomy of the involved cervical segments were sufficient for the great majority of tumors. In seven instances only, drilling the posterior third of an occipital condyle was needed. Twelve of 15 spinocranial meningiomas and 13 of 25 craniocervical meningiomas could be removed totally. One patient underwent ventriculoperitoneal shunting only. With a rate of 63% of totally removed and 30% of subtotally removed meningiomas in this region, we observed clinical recurrences for two patients only. Complications were encountered in 30% of patients, predominantly with recurrent and/or infiltrative or en plaque meningiomas. Whereas motor weakness and gait ataxia tended to improve postoperatively, cranial nerve deficits usually remained unaltered.
Conclusion: The relationship of the tumor to neighboring structures, i.e., the vertebral artery in particular, determines its resectability. We recommend using extreme caution with recurrent or en plaque meningiomas and tumors associated with extensive arachnoid scarring.