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What is a Petroclival Meningioma?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A petroclival meningioma is a type of brain tumor located near the skull base, in an area known as the petroclival junction. Such tumors are challenging to treat, as they are located deep inside the brain and may be difficult to access surgically. Treatment is usually supervised by an oncologist, working with a neurosurgeon to determine whether the tumor is operable and to develop an appropriate approach to treatment. The prognosis is variable, depending on the size of the tumor, when it is identified, and the precise position.

Meningiomas are relatively common brain tumors. Many are benign, although they can cause symptoms as they grow larger by increasing the pressure on the brain. Patients may develop headaches, nausea, and vomiting. In the case of the petroclival meningioma, the tumor is close to a number of very important structures, including the trigeminal nerve, responsible for facial sensation. The patient may develop abnormal sensation in and around the face as the tumor grows.

Patients who develop neurological symptoms like those seen in a petroclival meningioma usually end up in the care of a neurologist, who can identify the cancer with imaging studies like MRI scans of the brain. Several sets of scans may be recommended to get as complete a picture as possible without having to enter the skull. The doctor can pinpoint the location of the tumor in relation to other structures in the brain to learn more about the patient's prognosis and the treatment options.

The petroclival junction is located almost in the middle of the skull. In surgery, this area is difficult to approach without injuring neighboring tissue, including delicate veins and nerves supplying various regions of the brain. Historically, these tumors were often regarded as inoperable. Improvements in surgical technique and the development of technology like gamma ray surgery, where surgeons use carefully directed radiation to destroy a tumor, have improved outcomes for patients with petroclival meningioma.

In cases where the tumor can be reached surgically, a surgeon can remove as much of the growth as possible, and may recommend chemotherapy and radiation to kill remaining cancer cells. Inoperable tumors may still respond to treatment. Each case is different, and examination of medical imaging studies, along with a review of the patient's history can be used to provide guidance for a treatment plan; in an older patient in poor health, for example, treatment might be focused on maintaining patient comfort rather than taking measures to try and save the patient.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon926929 — On Jan 21, 2014

Well there has got to be a genetic link, as I had developed a meningioma and so did my second cousin. My tumour was only diagnosed when I had about five months to live if it wasn't removed. Due to its size, I was in the best specialist hospital for brain injuries (in the UK) for six months after surgery, and now, 18 months later, am due for more surgery to get the last bit out. Just because a tumour is a big one doesn't mean it's terminal. I'm living proof of that!

By anon342852 — On Jul 24, 2013

I am 10 years out from Petroclival meningioma tumor surgeries and radiation. I have 1/3 of the tumor with no growth. I have low growth hormone levels, low thyroid, no feeling and double vision on the left side of my face. I never felt bad, just relief to have found the reason for my goofiness. As luck would have it, one of my dearest friends married a neurologist and lived near UCSF. Like I said: no growth.

By anon292961 — On Sep 23, 2012

I had surgery for a Petroclival tumor none months ago. The surgery was successful but it has left me with permanent dizziness and numbness on the left side of my face, like a mega-shot of lidocaine at the dentist.

I am 65 and got my first cellphone when I was 58. My neurosurgeon said that, given the size of the tumor, I had certainly had it for around 15 years, long before I had ever used (or even seen) a cellphone (although obviously I have been living, like everyone else, with microwaves).

I think that many (if not most) benign brain tumors are genetic growths rather than microwave induced.

By JaneAir — On Jun 22, 2011

@indemnifyme - I don't think cell phones are to blame for increased instances of brain tumors. In fact, I'm not even sure the amount of brain tumors people are getting are increasing at all. It seems a little alarmist to say cell phones can cause brain cancer. I believe studies have been done and no link has been found.

By indemnifyme — On Jun 20, 2011

I'm glad to see that surgical techniques for brain tumors are advancing. I keep hearing that brain tumors are more common than ever before and I think cell phones are to blame. I don't see people giving up their cell phones anytime soon so at least the meningioma prognosis isn't as grim anymore.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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