A proposed grading system for standardizing tumor consistency of intracranial meningiomas

Gabriel Zada, Parham Yashar, Aaron Robison, Jesse Winer, Alexander Khalessi, William J. Mack, Steven L. Giannotta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Object. Tumor consistency plays an important and underrecognized role in the surgeon's ability to resect meningiomas, especially with evolving trends toward minimally invasive and keyhole surgical approaches. Aside from descriptors such as "hard" or "soft," no objective criteria exist for grading, studying, and conveying the consistency of meningiomas. Methods. The authors designed a practical 5-point scale for intraoperative grading of meningiomas based on the surgeon's ability to internally debulk the tumor and on the subsequent resistance to folding of the tumor capsule. Tumor consistency grades and features are as follows: 1) extremely soft tumor, internal debulking with suction only; 2) soft tumor, internal debulking mostly with suction, and remaining fibrous strands resected with easily folded capsule; 3) average consistency, tumor cannot be freely suctioned and requires mechanical debulking, and the capsule then folds with relative ease; 4) firm tumor, high degree of mechanical debulking required, and capsule remains difficult to fold; and 5) extremely firm, calcified tumor, approaches density of bone, and capsule does not fold. Additional grading categories included tumor heterogeneity (with minimum and maximum consistency scores) and a 3-point vascu- larity score. This grading system was prospectively assessed in 50 consecutive patients undergoing craniotomy for meningioma resection by 2 surgeons in an independent fashion. Grading scores were subjected to a linear weighted kappa analysis for interuser reliability. Results. Fifty patients (100 scores) were included in the analysis. The mean maximal tumor diameter was 4.3 cm. The distribution of overall tumor consistency scores was as follows: Grade 1, 4%; Grade 2, 9%; Grade 3, 43%; Grade 4, 44%; and Grade 5, 0%. Regions of Grade 5 consistency were reported only focally in 14% of heterogeneous tumors. Tumors were designated as homogeneous in 68% and heterogeneous in 32% of grades. The kappa analysis score for overall tumor consistency grade was 0.87 (SE 0.06, 95% CI 0.76-0.99), with 90% user agreement. Kappa analysis scores for minimum and maximum grades of tumor regions were 0.69 (agreement 72%) and 0.75 (agreement 78%), respectively. The kappa analysis score for tumor vascularity grading was 0.56 (agreement 76%). Overall consistency did not correlate with patient age, tumor location, or tumor size. A higher tumor vascularity grade was associated with a larger tumor diameter (p = 0.045) and with skull base location (p = 0.02). Conclusions. The proposed grading system provides a reliable, practical, and objective assessment of menin- gioma consistency and facilitates communication among providers. This system also accounts for heterogeneity in tumor consistency. With the proposed scale, meningioma consistency can be standardized as groundwork for future studies relating to surgical outcomes, predictability of consistency and vascularity using neuroimaging techniques, and effectiveness of various surgical instruments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE1
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Consistency
  • Endoscopic skull base surgery
  • Firmness
  • Histopathology
  • Meningioma
  • Skull base
  • Texture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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