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Neurosurg Rev. 2008 Jan;31(1):55-64; discussion 64. Epub 2007 Oct 6.

The role of the endoscope in the transsphenoidal management of cystic lesions of the sellar region.

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Department of Neurological Sciences, Division of Neurosurgery, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Via Sergio Pansini, 5, 80131 Naples, Italy.


Cystic mass lesions within the sella turcica are common, and they include cystic pituitary adenomas, craniopharyngiomas, Rathke's cleft cysts, arachnoid cysts, and other entities. Until recently, such lesions were typically removed by a microsurgical transsphenoidal route. Given the increased use of the endoscope in transsphenoidal surgery, we evaluated the potential benefits of this tool in the treatment of such lesions. Between January 1997 and March 2005, 76 consecutive patients with sellar-suprasellar cystic lesions treated in three Neurosurgical Divisions underwent transsphenoidal removal in which the endoscope was used at least during the sellar step of the procedure (endoscope-assisted or fully endoscopic). The series consisted of 26 pituitary macroadenomas, 20 Rathke's cleft cysts, 18 craniopharyngiomas, 10 arachnoid cysts, one craniopharyngioma associated with an adrenocorticotropic hormone-secreting adenoma, and one chordoid glioma. Rigid 4-mm endoscopes (0 degrees , 30 degrees , and/or 45 degrees ) were used, and the advantages and limits of the endoscope during the sellar step of the procedure were recorded. Endoscopic exploration after lesion evacuation was generally easier and of greatest efficacy when the residual cystic cavity was larger as opposed to smaller. The use of angled endoscopes was optimal in larger residual cavities. Early descent of the suprasellar cistern, bleeding inside the residual cyst cavity, and a small sella were the most common causes preventing thorough exploration of the residual cavity after its evacuation. In no cases did the endoscope cause injury during the sellar cavity exploration. Endoscopic exploration of the sellar cavity during transsphenoidal surgery offers both general and specific advantages in the treatment of a variety of different cystic sellar lesions. Its routine use during transsphenoidal surgery for such lesions is recommended to achieve maximal and safe tumor removal.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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