Neuroendoscopy has the advantages of panoramic view, close observation, clear detail and ideal light. For hydrocephalus, brain tumor and arachnoid cyst, neuroendoscopy can replace the surgery under microscope to some extent . Neuroendoscopy was commonly used in biopsy of the tumor tissue in the pineal region and ETV to treat hydrocephalus . With the development of equipment and improvement of technology, neuroendoscopy is being increasingly used to resect the pineal region tumors, which requires the anatomy of the pineal region to be clearly visualized. The upper bound of the pineal region is the splenium of corpus callosum and interpositum, lower bound is the corpora quadrigemina and mesencephalic tectum, anterior border is the posterior part of the third ventricle, posterior boundary is the superior vermis. When simulating the infratentorial supracerebellar approach, the deep cerebral venous system, such as the great cerebral vein, the base vein, the superior vermis vein and the bilateral internal cerebral vein could be seen through the infratentorial gap. Reviewing the anatomical structure of the pineal region is useful to shorten the operation time and improve the quality of the surgery.
The approaches for pineal tumors include the occipital transtentorial corridor (Poppen approach), infratentorial supracerebellar corridor (Krause approach), posterior transcallosal interhemispheric approach and transcortical transventricular approach [6, 7]. The great cerebral vein and quadrigeminal venous rete can be clearly visualized from the Poppen corridor, but it may lead to occipital hemianopia. However, the tumor in front of the Galen vein cannot be seen. The advantage of the trans corpus callosum fornix approach is that it does not block the drainage vein, but may result in postoperative mutism and memory disorders. Cortex damage may be required in the lateral ventricle corridor, and epilepsy may be induced after operation. These approaches are often performed under a microscope. In order to expose the tumor, brain retractor is needed to pull the brain tissue, which may cause postoperative cerebellar edema.
The infratentorial supracerebellar corridor (Krause approach) was first used by Krause in 1926. This approach uses the natural passage between the cerebellum and tentorium to enter the pineal region, which can reduce damage to the surrounding tissues by using the space under the great cerebral vein . It is suitable for tumors below the Galen vein complex. Majority of the tumors in the pineal region can be removed by this corridor . When the tumor is resected under the microscope, the cerebellum is naturally sagged. There is a natural gap between the cerebellum and the tentorium, but the visual field is not fully exposed. Patients often need to sit during the operation, which is likely to cause gas embolism and other complications. Neuroendoscopy can provide sufficient surgical field. The patient can remain in prone position during the operation. It is not necessary to pull the brain to expose the tumor, which reduces postoperative cerebellar edema and other injuries.
Tumors of the pineal region account for 3–8% of all central nervous system tumors . The pathological types include germinoma, nongerminomatous germ cell tumors (teratoma, embryonal carcinoma, choriocarcinoma), pineal parenchymal tumors (pineocytoma and pineoblastoma), glial tumor (ependymoma) and other tumors (cavernous hemangioma and meningiomas). The tumor is deep in the brain, surrounded by important blood vessels and nerve tissues. Hence, the surgery is very risky and difficult. The patient usually also has hydrocephalus, which further increases the complexity of surgery. Surgical resection remains the most important method for most pineal tumors, except germinoma . The latter can be treated with radiotherapy and chemotherapy after a clear diagnosis by tumor biopsy. Stereotactic biopsy of the pineal tumor has been conducted in some cases, but it usually causes complications, such as postoperative bleeding .
About 60% of all pineal region tumors are germinomas . Germinoma is mostly found in young patients, under 25 years of age . In the first case, preoperative biochemistry and magnetic resonance examination indicated germinoma, which was confirmed by intraoperative frozen section examination. So subtotal resection was performed for protecting the surrounding deep structure. The surgery was safe, and the damage caused by postoperative radiotherapy and chemotherapy was minimized. The patient recovered well.
Yolk sac is a malignant nongerminomatous germ cell tumor, and its incidence rate is higher in the pineal region than in the saddle area . In the second case, the tumor was partially resected due to abundant blood supply and hemostatic difficulties. Postoperative treatment included radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The patient recovered well. Biopsy is preferred under the neuroendoscope through the infratentorial supracerebellar corridor because it does not cause tumor spread and metastasis. Bleeding is rare and does not cause obstructive hydrocephalus or destroy the deep structure. The specimens can be obtained under direct vision, and the operation is completed after frozen pathological confirmation.
The cavernous hemangioma is a cavernous vascular malformation, which is a type of cerebral vascular malformation, and its incidence is 0.9% . In the third case, preoperative MRI and CTA suggested benign lesions. Total resection was achieved by neuroendoscopy, without damage to the brain stem. The postoperative follow-up indicated good recovery. Therefore, preoperative MRI and CTA imaging examinations are essential to diagnose benign and malignant lesions. Combined with intraoperative frozen pathology for the diagnosis of cavernous hemangioma, the total resection of tumor can be achieved.
Neuroendoscopy is not suitable for all pineal tumors. It should be used carefully for tumors which are tough, obviously calcified, with abundant blood supply and surrounded by arteries. The tough and calcified tumor is difficult to remove by neuroendoscopy, which increases the difficulty of operation. Profuse bleeding occurs under neuroendoscopy in hypervascular tumors, which increases the surgical risk. The tumor is best confined to the quadrigeminal cistern, not beyond the splenium of corpus callosum and under the Galenic complex, both sides not exceeding the pulvinar  because it is safe and feasible to resect the neoplasm under neuroendoscopy. It was difficult to surpass both sides of P3 and Galen’s veins because of the limitation of anatomical structure in our simulated neuroendoscopic operation.
In summary, the anatomical structure of the pineal region can be completely visualized with enough space for surgery through pure neuroendoscopic infratentorial supracerebellar corridor. Preoperative comprehensive MRI and CTA examinations are crucial for complete neuroendoscopic surgery.