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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 57  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 274--281

Surgical considerations for 'intrinsic' brainstem gliomas: Proposal of a modification in classification

1 Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon, India
2 Department of Neurosurgery, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
3 Department of Neuroradiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
4 Department of Radiotherapy, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
P S Chandra
Department of Neurosurgery, Room 710, 7th Floor, Cardio Neurosciences Center, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi - 10 029
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0028-3886.53272

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Background: Brainstem gliomas are highly heterogeneous tumors both in their clinical manifestation and in their pathology. Despite significant advances in the surgery for brainstem gliomas many aspects of this pathology are still unclear Objective: To evaluate the clinical, radiological and surgical outcome of 40 focal 'intrinsic' brainstem gliomas and propose a surgical strategy-oriented classification. Materials and Methods: A total of 40 focal 'intrinsic' ("expanding variety") tumors have been operated over a period of 8.5-years (January 1998-June 2007). Our criteria included patients with (1) well-defined gadolinium enhancing tumor; (2) relatively long duration of symptoms (> six months) and (3) good neurological functional status and independent for all activities of daily living. The cutoff size of 2 cm was not rigidly adhered to. Results: The 'intrinsic' brainstem tumors were classified into three types: Expanding, diffuse infiltrative and pure ventral varieties. Only patients with expanding variety of brainstem gliomas were subjected to surgery, mean age 19.2 years (range 4-55 years) and male to female ration mean: 3:2). The tumor location included pons (n=19), midbrain (n=13) and medulla (n=8). Surgical approaches included midline suboccipital (n=28), retromastoid (n=7), subtemporal (n=3) and supracerebellar-infratentorial (n=2). Thirty-two cases with 'diffuse infiltrative' and 'pure ventral' variety were given radiotherapy only. Histology pathology revealed pilocytic variety (n=10), Grade II (n=17) and Grade III (n=13). There was one death in the surgical series (due to aspiration). Complications included meningitis (n=2), wound infection (n=1), chest infection (n=5) and transient mutism (n=1). Follow-up ranged from 3-68 months. Overall, 36 improved /remained same and three worsened in their clinical status at the time of discharge. Conclusion: The surgical management of intrinsic brainstem tumors presents a surgical challenge; radical excision yielded a good outcome in the majority of cases. The authors propose a classification system for 'intrinsic' brainstem tumors for defining surgical strategy.


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