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Neurosurgery. 2004 Jun;54(6):1385-93; discussion 1393-4.

Gamma knife radiosurgery for benign cavernous sinus tumors: quantitative analysis of treatment outcomes.

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Department of Neurological Surgery, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90033-1029, USA.



We review our 8-year experience with gamma knife radiosurgery (GKRS) for the treatment of patients with benign cavernous sinus tumors and present a quantitative analysis of factors relevant to treatment outcomes.


From 1994 to 2002, a total of 139 patients with benign cavernous sinus tumors were treated in 145 sessions. Their median age was 53 years, and the median follow-up was 3.5 years. The tumors included 57 meningiomas, 76 pituitary tumors (49 nonfunctional adenomas, 15 prolactinomas, 5 adrenocorticotropic hormone-secreting tumors, 6 growth hormone-secreting tumors, and 1 plurihormone-secreting tumor), 4 schwannomas, 1 hemangioma, and 1 paraganglioma. Sekhar tumor grades were as follows: I, n = 28 (20%); II, n = 42 (30%); III, n = 42 (30%); IV, n = 19 (14%); and V, n = 8 (6%). The median tumor volume was 3.4 cm(3), and the median prescribed dose was 15 Gy defined to the 50% isodose line.


A total of 136 treated tumors (97.8%) were well controlled by GKRS, with low morbidity. For meningiomas, 29 tumors (51%) were unchanged and 26 (46%) were smaller at a median of 15.2 months. For pituitary tumors, 50 (66%) were unchanged and 25 (33%) were smaller at a median of 20.6 months. Improvement in cranial nerve (CN) function was seen in 19 (36.5%) of 52 patients with pre-GKRS deficits, and 3 patients (2.2%) developed new stable CN deficits after GKRS: 1 patient developed IVth CN palsy at 9 months, and 2 developed persistent VIth CN palsies at 43 and 45 months, respectively, that required surgical correction. Two patients developed transient VIth CN palsies at 48 months that self-resolved after another year. Endocrine function normalized for all 6 treated patients with a growth hormone-secreting tumor at a median of 18 months. One of the 5 adrenocorticotropic hormone-secreting tumors required retreatment after 17 months because of continued cortisol elevation. Thirteen (87%) of 15 prolactinoma patients had normalized prolactin levels within 2 years of the procedure; 2 patients relapsed by endocrine criteria at 18 and 22 months after GKRS. Two patients with normalized prolactin levels completed three normal pregnancies within 3 years of treatment. Six patients (4.3%) with a median tumor volume of 8 cm(3) developed radiation-induced injury at a median of 36 months after GKRS. Five of these patients also underwent external beam radiotherapy and received a median dose of 52.2 Gy in 30 fractions. Quantitative analysis revealed that the radiation dose to critical structures (optic apparatus and pons) is correlated with their distance from tumor margins. Underdosed tumor volume, tumor volume, and total treated volume are correlated with treatment outcomes.


GKRS is a safe and effective treatment for selected patients with benign cavernous sinus tumors and is an important adjunct for treating postoperative tumor residual and/or recurrent tumor. Continued analysis of treated patients over an extended time is needed to evaluate long-term disease control and potential late GKRS complications.

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