Endoscopic endonasal approach in the management of skull base chordomas—clinical experience on a large series, technique, outcome, and pitfalls

Salvatore Chibbaro, Jan Frederick Cornelius, Sebastien Froelich, Leonardo Tigan, Pierre Kehrli, Christian Debry, Antonio Romano, Philippe Herman, Bernard George, Damien Bresson
Neurosurgical Review 2014, 37 (2): 217-24; discussion 224-5
Skull base chordomas represent very interesting neoplasms, due to their rarity, biological behavior, and resistance to treatment. Their management is very challenging. Recently, the use of a natural corridor, through the nose and the sphenoid sinus, improved morbidity and mortality allowing also for excellent removal rates. Prospective analysis of 54 patients harboring a skull base chordoma that were managed by extended endonasal endoscopic approach (EEA). Among the 54 patients treated (during a 72 months period), 21 were women and 33 men, undergoing 58 procedures. Twenty-two cases (40%) were recurrent and 32 (60%) newly diagnosed chordomas. Among the 32 newly diagnosed chordomas, a gross total resection was achieved in 28 cases (88%), a near total (>95% of tumor) in 2 cases (6%), a partial (>50% of tumor) in 2 cases (6%). Among the 22 recurrent chordomas, resection was complete in 7 cases (30%), near total in 7 (30%), and partial in 8 (40%). The global gross total resection rate was 65% (35/54 cases). Four patients (11%) recurred and 4 (11%) progressed within a mean follow-up of 34 months (range 12-84 months). Four patients (11%) were re-operated; one patient (1.8%) died due to disease progression, one patient (1.8%) died 2 weeks after surgery due to a massive bleeding from an ICA pseudo aneurysm. CSF leakage occurred in four patients (8%), and meningitis in eight cases (14%). No new permanent neurological deficit occurred. The EEA management of skull base chordomas requires a long and gradual learning curve that once acquired offers the possibility of either similar or better resection rates as compared to traditional approaches while morbidity is improved.

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