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Head Neck. 1999 May;21(3):185-91.

Anterior craniofacial resection for malignant ethmoid tumors--a series of 91 patients.

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  • 1Section of Cranio-Maxillo-Facial Surgery, Istituto Nazionale per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori, Milan, Italy.



Anterior craniofacial resection is now recognized as the best treatment for ethmoid tumors involving the cribriform plate with or without invasion of anterior cranial fossa.


Ninety-one patients underwent an anterior craniofacial resection for ethmoid malignant tumors at the Milan Cancer Institute between 1987 and 1994. The patient population was divided into two sections (30 and 61 patients) based upon some important variants (type of craniotomy, antibiotic treatment, postoperative care).


The mean age was 53.4 years (range, 24 to 78 years). There were 62 men and 29 women. Forty-nine patients had a recurrence after previous treatments (surgery and/or radiotherapy). The subdivision by histology was as follows: 50 cases of adenocarcinoma, 16 cases of epidermoid and undifferentiated carcinoma, 8 cases of esthesioneuroblastoma, 5 cases of adenoid cystic carcinoma, 5 cases of melanoma, and 6 rare tumors. The stages (according to our new staging) were as follows: 37 cases with T2, 27 cases with T3, and 27 cases with T4. The mean follow-up was 47 months. Seven patients died after surgery (6 in the first series). The survival at 3 and 5 years was, respectively, 52% and 47%, and the disease-free survival (DFS) was 30% and 24%, with a statistically significant difference at multivariate analysis in favor of patients without prior treatment (p = .033) or T2 versus T3 and T4 (p<.007).


An anterior craniofacial resection should be performed in cases of ethmoid tumors reaching or eroding the cribriform plate. A scrupulous intra- and postoperative approach is necessary to avoid severe complications. The patients often survive for a long time with recurrence ongoing. Our new staging identifies the critical extensions of ethmoid tumors.

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