Meningiomas are slowly growing, usually benign tumors that arise from the protective coverings of the brain.
When a meningioma develops over the surface of the brain, it is usually possible to remove it completely, but many meningiomas involve important arteries, veins, or cranial nerves, and in these cases a complete removal may be hazardous. In these instances, surgery often is combined with some form of radiation to control the remaining tumor.
Research shows that hospitals performing a high volume of meningioma surgeries (more than 10 meningioma operations per year) report fewer deaths than lower-volume hospitals—and that outcomes are even better with high-volume neurosurgeons (those who perform more than seven operations per year).* UT Southwestern Medical Center neurosurgeons operate on 60 or more patients with meningiomas each year.
We are supported by a team of physicians and nurses equally experienced in the management of these tumors.
The current World Health Organization classification system of meningiomas places them in three groups based on the growth patterns of the cells that make up the tumor.
In this system, approximately 70 percent of meningiomas are considered benign and designated WHO grade 1. Approximately 30 percent of meningiomas contain cells that demonstrate aggressive growth potential; these are designated WHO grade 2. Only 1 percent of meningiomas are truly malignant, or WHO grade 3.
Because meningiomas may occur in many locations within the skull, they may produce a variety of neurologic problems. Large tumors in any location may cause headaches. Tumors that irritate the surface of the brain may produce seizures. Tumors that involve one or more of the cranial nerves may produce loss of function of those nerves—loss of vision or hearing, for example.
Due to the large number of computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) scans performed in the United States, many small meningiomas are discovered by chance, before they have caused any symptoms or problems. In most cases, these incidental meningiomas are merely monitored. Meningiomas that produce symptoms are evaluated by a team of neurosurgeons to determine the best management for each patient.
When treatment is needed, the best option for all grades is complete surgical removal, when possible.
If a complete removal is not possible, in some cases the remaining tumor is monitored with MR scans. In other cases, especially for WHO grade 2 or 3 tumors, remaining tumor fragments are treated with some form of radiation after the patient has recovered from surgery.
For meningiomas that cannot be completely removed, and in selected cases as an alternative to surgery, UT Southwestern has invested heavily in the most accurate radiation delivery technology available.
We have the only Gamma Knife Perfexion in the Fort Worth-Dallas Metroplex, and whenever possible we use this device to treat recurrent or residual tumors in one day on an outpatient basis.
We treat larger tumors or those that contact the optic nerves with the CyberKnife, a robotic device that maintains accurate radiation delivery for treatments that must be delivered in divided doses, over several days or weeks. Radiation oncologists and neurosurgeons who are highly experienced in the treatment of meningiomas do radiation planning jointly.
Request an Appointment
To schedule an appointment with a meningioma specialist at UT Southwestern’s facilities in Dallas or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.