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Neurosurgery. 2002 May;50(5):950-5; discussion 955-7.

Optic nerve sheath meningiomas: visual improvement after stereotactic radiotherapy.

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Department of Neurosurgery, New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York 10595, USA.



The management of primary optic nerve sheath meningioma (ONSM) is controversial. Surgery often results in postoperative blindness in the affected eye and thus has been abandoned as a treatment option for most patients. When these tumors are left untreated, however, progressive visual impairment ensues, which also leads to blindness. Recently, radiation therapy has gained wider acceptance in the treatment of these lesions. Experience with stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) in the treatment of ONSMs is limited because of the rare incidence of this tumor. We present a series of patients with ONSM who were treated with SRT.


Five patients (three women, two men), ranging in age from 40 to 73 years, presented with progressive visual loss with decreased visual field, visual acuity, and color vision affecting six eyes (one patient had tumor involving both optic nerves). One patient also presented with proptosis and diplopia. Five eyes had functional residual vision (range, 20/20 to 20/40), and one eye was completely blind. All five patients were diagnosed clinically and radiographically to have an ONSM. Three were intraorbital, one was intracanalicular as well as intraorbital, and one was a left ONSM extending through the optic foramen into the intracranial space and involving the right optic nerve. The five functional eyes were treated with SRT by use of 1.8-Gy fractions to a cumulative dose of 45 to 54 Gy.


Follow-up ranged from 1 to 7 years, and serial magnetic resonance imaging revealed no changes in the size of the tumor in all five patients. Four patients experienced dramatic improvement in visual acuity, visual field, and color vision within 3 months after SRT. One patient remained stable without evidence of visual deterioration or disease progression. None had radiation-induced optic neuropathy.


SRT may be a viable option for treatment of primary ONSM in patients with documented progressive visual deterioration, and it may be effective in improving or stabilizing remaining functional vision.

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