OBJECTIVE: Patients affected with von Hippel-Lindau disease often develop multiple hemangioblastomas in the cerebellum and spinal cord. Timing of surgical intervention is difficult and depends largely on the anticipated surgical morbidity. However, data regarding surgical outcome after multiple cerebellar and medullary surgeries are scarce. Our objective was to evaluate cumulative surgical morbidity in patients operated on multiple cerebellar and medullary hemangioblastomas and to deduce recommendations for treatment.
METHODS: We performed a retrospective analysis for a consecutive cohort of von Hippel-Lindau patients with surgical treatment of at least two cerebellar and/or medullary hemangioblastomas. Pre- and postoperative functional grades were reviewed in patients' files and compared by Modified Ranking Scale (cerebellar surgeries) or by Modified McCormick Score (medullary surgeries).
RESULTS: Thirty-six patients were surgically treated for at least two cerebellar hemangioblastomas (12 patients), at least two medullary hemangioblastomas (19 patients) or at least two hemangioblastomas in both locations (5 patients). Fourthy-eight cerebellar and 80 medullary procedures were performed in total. On average, multiple cerebellar surgeries caused no clinical deterioration, whereas multiple medullary surgeries led to a slight cumulative deterioration of postoperative functional grades. The severity of this deterioration did not correlate to the number of performed medullary surgeries.
CONCLUSION: Resection of multiple cerebellar hemangioblastomas is not associated with cumulative morbidity. Although there is a certain cumulative surgical morbidity caused by medullary surgeries, its extent does not increase with the number of performed surgeries. Microsurgical removal of asymptomatic tumors with radiographic progression can also be considered for patients with multiple tumors and previous surgeries.