Background The cerebellopontine angle (CPA) is a narrowed skull base area containing important cranial nerves and vessels and bordering with eloquent areas of the posterior fossa. Tumors of the CPA are a heterogeneous group and can have extradural, intradural/extra-axial, or intra-axial origins. Their vascular supply changes depending on their anatomic origin. Symptomatic, large CPA tumors require surgical resection in order to prevent irreversible, severe neurological damages. However, its tight and strategical location make surgery in the CPA very challenging and require appropriate pre-surgical planning. Pre-surgical diagnosis is of great importance as it allows us to choose the optimal management for the particular patient. This is of further significance when encountering high-risk lesions such as hypervascular tumors. Neurosurgeons should utilize every available pre-surgical diagnostic modalities as well as neo-adjuvant treatments in order to reduce such risks. Methods We review all reported cases of hypervascular lesions of the CPA and discuss the roles of angiography and stereotactic radiosurgery in their management. Results Three lesions of the CPA can be considered as truly hypervascular: hemangioblastomas, hemangiopericytomas and paragangliomas. All lesions share many radiological features. However, each lesion has a different anatomical origin and hence, has a characteristic vascular supply. Pre-surgical angiography can be utilized as a diagnostic tool to narrow down the differential diagnosis of a vascular CPA lesion, based on the predominant supplying vessel. In addition, pre-surgical embolization at time of angiography will narrow the associated surgical risks. Conclusions Angiography is a crucial diagnostic and therapeutic tool, helping both in narrowing the presurgical differential diagnosis and in controlling intraoperative bleeding. Because of the high surgical risks associated with resection of vascular tumors in the CPA, noninvasive treatments, such as stereotactic radiosurgery, also may have a crucial role.
- Cerebellopontine angle