Meningiomas are generally benign tumors that arise from the lining that surrounds the brain. Meningiomas are generally described according to the anatomic location at which they arise, and the symptoms that they produce typically are related to the parts of the brain that are impacted by the tumor. For instance, tumors that develop behind the eyes can cause vision issues, while tumors that develop in the area of the olfactory nerves can interfere with the sense of smell. The terms to describe meningiomas include:
Cavernous sinus meningiomas
These develop near the area where deoxygenated blood drains from the brain to the heart. Because this area of the brain helps control facial sensations and eye movement, a tumor can cause facial pain, double vision and dizziness. When compared to other types of meningiomas, cavernous sinus meningiomas are relatively rare.
These develop on the surface of the brain directly underneath the skull. Convexity meningiomas make up a large percentage of meningioma cases overall, with close to 20% falling into this category. With this type of meningioma, symptoms generally don’t appear until the tumor has already grown to a significant size. When symptoms do occur, they often include headaches, seizures, vision changes and neurological impairment.
Foramen magnum meningiomas
These develop in the small opening through which the spinal cord connects to the brain. Symptoms often develop gradually and may include balance issues, involuntary twitching/tremors and loss of muscle tone in the tongue and extremities. Patients also commonly report feeling pain behind their eyes, in the back of their head and in their upper neck, and many experience sensation changes in their extremities.
These develop inside the ventricular system where cerebrospinal fluid is produced. Because an intraventricular meningioma can block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid through the ventricles, it can lead to headaches and dizziness.
Olfactory groove meningiomas
These develop along the nerves that run from the brain to the nose. Olfactory meningiomas can interfere with a person’s sense of smell. And when these tumors grow to a significant size, they also run the risk of causing vision impairment.
Optic nerve sheath meningiomas
As their name suggests, these tumors develop on the optic nerve. Many patients with optic nerve sheath meningiomas experience vision loss, and some also develop bulging in one or both eyes (proptosis).
Parasagittal and falcine meningiomas
Both of these develop in or on the thin layer of tissue that separates the two sides of the brain. There are numerous large blood vessels in this area of the brain, and if one of these meningiomas exerts pressure on a nearby blood vessel, it may interfere with how blood circulates throughout the brain.
These tumors develop deep within the center of the skull base. Although petroclival meningiomas are relatively slow growing, they’re also quite difficult to reach during surgery. Patients often develop headaches, dizziness, impaired coordination, double vision, hearing problems and facial pain, numbness or weakness.
Planum sphenoidale meningiomas
These tumors develop on top of the cribriform plate of the ethmoid bone, sphenofrontal suture and planum sphenoidale. They’re relatively slow growing, and as such, patients often don’t experience any symptoms for an extended period of time. Eventually, planum sphenoidale meningiomas can lead to visual disturbances, headaches and cognitive impairment.
Posterior fossa/petrous meningiomas
These develop on the nerves on the underside of the brain. Some of the symptoms of posterior fossa/petrous meningiomas include facial pain and spasms.
Skull base meningiomas
These develop in the bones at the bottom of the skull and at the back of the eyes. When compared to convexity meningiomas, skull base meningiomas may be more difficult to surgically remove.
Sphenoid wing meningiomas
These develop in the bones where the convexity meets the skull base, behind the eyes. Due to their location in the brain, sphenoid wing meningiomas can cause vision problems (in severe cases even leading to blindness) as well as facial numbness.
These develop within the spinal canal and push on the spinal cord. As a result, they often cause back pain, numbness and a tingling sensation. Spinal meningiomas are one of the less common types of skull base meningiomas, often affecting middle-aged women.
These develop in the skull base near the optic nerves and pituitary gland. Suprasellar meningiomas usually progress slowly but may eventually cause vision problems in one or both eyes.
Tuberculum sellae meningiomas
These tumors develop near the tuberculum sellae, planum sphenoidale and chiasmatic sulcus. They often cause progressive vision loss and may eventually lead to blindness.
Meningioma diagnosis and treatment at Moffitt
Because Moffitt Cancer Center is a leading destination for brain tumor treatment, the oncologists in our Neuro-Oncology Program have notable experience with all types of meningiomas that arise from all of the locations listed above, including ones that may require consideration of options beyond surgery alone.
A referral is not required to make an appointment at Moffitt. To learn more about the various types of meningioma and the possible treatments for each, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online. You can expect a quick turnaround time.
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Michael Vogelbaum, Program Leader, Department of Neuro-Oncology and Chief of Neurosurgery
American Association of Neurological Surgeons: Meningiomas