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Neurosurgery. 2008 Mar;62(3):556-63; discussion 556-63. doi: 10.1227/01.neu.0000317303.93460.24.

Tuberculum sellae meningiomas: high route or low route? A series of 51 consecutive cases.

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  • 1Department of Neurological Sciences, Division of Neurosurgery, Universit√† degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Naples, Italy.



Tuberculum sellae meningiomas represent 5 to 10% of all intracranial meningiomas. Such lesions are classically removed through a variety of well-standardized transcranial approaches. The extended endonasal transsphenoidal route, under either microscopic or endoscopic visualization, has only recently been proposed as a viable surgical technique for the management of such tumors.


A total of 51 consecutive patients with tuberculum sellae meningiomas were treated at our institution during a 21-year period. Forty-four patients had transcranial surgery, and the last seven were treated via the extended endoscopic transsphenoidal approach. We also compared our data with those reported in the pertinent literature related to the surgical, ophthalmological, and endocrinological outcome.


The significant difference among the transcranial and transsphenoidal series, both in our experience and in the reviewed literature, did not allow us to draw statistically significant results but rather a reporting of the outcomes. In the transcranial group, 86.4% had a gross total removal of the lesion, whereas the percentage was 83.3% in the transsphenoidal group. Concerning the visual outcome, we experienced postoperative improvement in 61.4% of the transcranial patients and a worsening of 13.6%, whereas improvement was reported in 71.4% of the patients in the transsphenoidal group; in the last group, we did not observe any postoperative worsening. The main drawback of the transsphenoidal approach still remains the difficulty in reconstructing the cranial base dural and bone defects, which expose patients to a greater risk of postoperative cerebrospinal fluid leakage (28.6% in our series) and related complications.


When treating a patient with a diagnosis of tuberculum sellae meningioma, a neurosurgeon should know that, aside from the classical transcranial approach, the possibility of an extended transsphenoidal approach exists. Although it is still not a standardized procedure, in carefully selected cases (i.e., small midline lesions, without major vessel encasement, or parasellar extension) and in experienced hands, it could be considered a viable alternative, especially in overcoming the reconstruction-related problems.

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