The far-lateral approach for foramen magnum meningiomas

Bruno C. Flores, Benjamin P. Boudreaux, Daniel R. Klinger, Bruce E. Mickey, Samuel L. Barnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Foramen magnum meningiomas (FMMs) are slow growing, most often intradural and extramedullary tumors that pose significant challenges to the skull base neurosurgeon. The indolent clinical course of FMMs and their insidious onset of symptoms are important factors that contribute to delayed diagnosis and relative large size at the time of presentation. Symptoms are often produced by compression of surrounding structures (such as the medulla oblongata, upper cervical spinal cord, lower cranial nerves, and vertebral artery) within a critically confined space. Since the initial pathological description of a FMM in 1872, various surgical approaches have been described with the aim of achieving radical tumor resection. The surgical treatment of FMMs has evolved considerably over the last 4 decades due to the progress in microsurgical techniques and development of a multitude of skull base approaches. Posterior and posterolateral FMMs can be safely resected via a standard midline suboccipital approach. However, controversy still exits regarding the optimal management of anterior or anterolateral lesions. Independently of technical variations and the degree of bone removal, all modern surgical approaches to the lower clivus and anterior foramen magnum derive from the posterolateral (or far-lateral) craniotomy originally described by Roberto Heros and Bernard George. This paper is a review of the surgical management of FMMs, with emphasis on the far-lateral approach and its variations. Clinical presentation, imaging findings, important neuroanatomical correlations, recurrence rates, and outcomes are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE12
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Far-lateral approach
  • Foramen magnum meningioma
  • Surgical management
  • Surgical technique

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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