Stereotactic Radiosurgery as the Primary Treatment for New and Recurrent Paragangliomas: Is Open Surgical Resection Still the Treatment of Choice?

Department of Neurosurgery, Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA.
World Neurosurgery (Impact Factor: 2.88). 05/2012; 77(5-6):745-61. DOI: 10.1016/j.wneu.2011.03.026
Source: PubMed


Paragangliomas (PGs) or glomus tumors are rare, and publications comparing treatment alternatives are few. We sought to analyze our experience with stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), review the literature, and develop treatment guidelines.
We retrospectively examined the outcomes of 41 PGs in 36 patients treated with SRS at Stanford. Our data from medical records, telephone interviews, and imaging studies were combined with previously reported SRS data and compared to results following other treatments.
With a median clinical follow-up of 4.8 years (3.9 years radiographic), local control was 100%. Complications included increase in preexistent vertigo in one patient and transient cranial neuropathies in two patients. Published surgical series describe a lower local control rate as well as more frequent and severe complications. Published radiation therapy (RT) series document a slightly lower local control rate than SRS, but SRS can be delivered more quickly and conveniently. Open surgery and other combinations of treatments appear to be required for several subpopulations of PG patients.
We feel that SRS should be the primary treatment for most new and recurrent PGs. Even some very large PGs are appropriate for SRS. RT remains an appropriate option in some centers, especially those where SRS is not available. PGs occurring in the youngest patients, catecholamine secreting PGs, and PGs causing rapidly progressing neurologic deficits may be more appropriate for open resection. Metastatic PGs may benefit from combinations of chemotherapy and SRS or RT. Treatment guidelines are proposed.

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    • "A surgical series described a lower local control rate and the onset of severe complications. A RT series showed a slightly lower local control rate than SRS.18 "
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND Paragangliomas are relatively rare vascular tumors that develop from the neural crest cells of carotid bifurcation. They usually present as slow-growing, painless unilateral neck masses; bilateral presentation is rare and is mostly associated with familial forms. Bilateral total resection is not always possible for high-grade bilateral tumors, and radiotherapy is a good alternative, with cure rates similar to surgery. CASE REPORT A 35-year-old female patient was admitted with a chief complaint of a bilateral, painless mass located on her neck. Subsequent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and angiographic imaging revealed bilateral hypervascular masses surrounding her carotid at 360°, and they were interpreted as stage 3 carotid paragangliomas according to the Shamblin classification protocol. Surgery was carried out on the left carotid paraganglioma and the mass was totally resected. It was thought that the patient could not tolerate bilateral surgery. Primary radiotherapy was planned on the right carotid paraganglioma: 59.8 gray (Gy) conformal, Linac-based multileaf collimator radiotherapy with a 180 cGy daily dosage, and five fractions per week were planned. RESULTS Follow-up at 3 months following the conclusion of radiotherapy revealed no significant regression. A follow-up MRI 6 months and 24 months later revealed 59% regression. Grade 2 esophagitis and minimal neck edema were the only complications noted during the course of radiotherapy and during the 24-month follow-up period. No complications or relapse were observed except for edema following neck surgery.
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