Because brainstem metastases are not deemed resectable, stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is the only treatment modality expected to achieve a radical cure. The authors describe their treatment results, focusing particularly on how long patients can survive without neurological deterioration following SRS for brainstem metastases. This was an institutional review board-approved, retrospective cohort study in which the authors pulled from their database information on 2553 consecutive patients with brain metastases who underwent Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) at the Mito GammaHouse between July 1998 and July 2011. Among the 2553 patients, excluding cases in which there was meningeal dissemination, 200 cases of brainstem metastases (78 women and 122 men with a mean age of 64 years [range 36-86 years]) were identified and analyzed. The most common primary site was the lung (137 patients) followed by the gastrointestinal tract (24 patients), breast (17 patients), kidney (12 patients), and others (10 patients). Among the 200 patients, 15 patients (7.5%) harbored at least 2 tumors in the brainstem: 11 patients had 2 tumors, 2 patients had 3 tumors, and 1 patient each had 4 or 5 tumors. Therefore, a total of 222 tumors were irradiated. These 222 tumors were located in the pons (121 lesions), the midbrain (65 lesions), and the medulla oblongata (36 lesions). The mean and median tumor volumes were 1.3 and 0.2 cm(3) (range 0.005-10.7 cm(3)), and the median peripheral radiation dose was 18.0 Gy (range 12.0-25.0 Gy). The overall median survival time (MST) was 6.0 months. Distribution of MSTs across Recursive Partitioning Analysis (RPA) classes showed that the MSTs were 9.4 months in Class I (20 patients), 6.0 months in Class II (171 patients), and 1.9 months in Class III (9 patients). Better Karnofsky Performance Scale score, single metastasis, and well-controlled primary tumor were significant predictive factors for longer survival. The neurological and qualitative survival rates were 90.8% and 89.2%, respectively, at 24 months post-GKS. Better KPS score and smaller tumor volume tended to be associated with prolonged qualitative survival. Follow-up imaging studies were available for 129 patients (64.5%). The tumor control rate was 81.8% at 24 months post-GKS. Smaller tumor volume tended to contribute to tumor control. The present results indicate that GKS is effective in the treatment of brainstem metastases, particularly from the viewpoint of maintaining a good neurological condition in the patient.
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