OBJECT: The authors sought to assess the functional tolerance and tumor control rate of cavernous sinus meningiomas treated by gamma knife radiosurgery (GKS).METHODS: Between July 1992 and October 1998, 92 patients harboring benign cavernous sinus meningiomas underwent GKS. The present study is concerned with the first 80 consecutive patients (63 women and 17 men). Gamma knife radiosurgery was performed as an alternative to surgical removal in 50 cases and as an adjuvant to microsurgery in 30 cases. The mean patient age was 49 years (range 6-71 years). The mean tumor volume was 5.8 cm3 (range 0.9-18.6 cm3). On magnetic resonance (MR) imaging the tumor was confined in 66 cases and extensive in 14 cases. The mean prescription dose was 28 Gy (range 12-50 Gy), delivered with an average of eight isocenters (range two-18). The median peripheral isodose was 50% (range 30-70%). Patients were evaluated at 6 months, and at 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 years after GKS. The median follow-up period was 30.5 months (range 12-79 months). Tumor stabilization after GKS was noted in 51 patients, tumor shrinkage in 25 patients, and enlargement in four patients requiring surgical removal in two cases. The 5-year actuarial progression-free survival was 92.8%. No new oculomotor deficit was observed. Among the 54 patients with oculomotor nerve deficits, 15 improved, eight recovered, and one worsened. Among the 13 patients with trigeminal neuralgia, one worsened (contemporary of tumor growing), five remained unchanged, four improved, and three recovered. In a patient with a remnant surrounding the optic nerve and preoperative low vision (3/10) the decision was to treat the lesion and deliberately sacrifice the residual visual acuity. Only one transient unexpected optic neuropathy has been observed. One case of delayed intracavernous carotid artery occlusion occurred 3 months after GKS, without permanent deficit. Another patient presented with partial complex seizures 18 months after GKS. All cases of tumor growth and neurological deficits observed after GKS occurred before the use of GammaPlan. Since the initiation of systematic use of stereotactic MR imaging and computer-assisted modern dose planning, no more side effects or cases of tumor growth have occurred.CONCLUSIONS: Gamma knife radiosurgery was found to be an effective low morbidity-related tool for the treatment of cavernous sinus meningioma. In a significant number of patients, oculomotor functional restoration was observed. The treatment appears to be an alternative to surgical removal of confined enclosed cavernous sinus meningioma and should be proposed as an adjuvant to surgery in case of extensive meningiomas.