Surgical outcome in smaller symptomatic vestibular schwannomas. Is there a role for surgery?

Acta Neurochirurgica (2018) 160:2263–2275

Currently, there is no consensus in the initial management of small vestibular schwannomas (VSs). They are routinely watched and/or referred for radiosurgical treatment, although surgical removal is also an option. We hereby evaluate clinical outcomes of patients who have undergone surgical removal of smaller symptomatic VSs.

Methods Patients with vestibular schwannomas (grade T1–T3b according to Hannover classification) were reviewed. Patients with symptomatic tumors who underwent surgery were evaluated. Their preoperative hearing status was based on the guideline of the committee on hearing and equilibriumof the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) foundation. Their postoperative facial nerve function, hearing status, vestibular symptoms, and degree of tumor resection were assessed.

Results Thirty patients were selected for surgery via a retrosigmoid approach based on their age, symptoms, and their own decision-making after discussion of management options. Most patients presented with hearing loss. Seventeen patients had useful hearing preoperatively. Among them, 10 patients (59%) preserved useful hearing (class A or B) postoperatively. MRI at 1-year follow-up confirmed complete resection in 26/29 patients. Also, 29 patients (97%) had HB grade I–II, and 1 patient had HB III at 1-year follow-up. Except for 1 patient with CSF leak, 1 patient with delayed facial nerve palsy, and 2 patients with asymptomatic sigmoid sinus occlusion, there were no other new morbidities.

Conclusion Although both observation and radiosurgery are valid options in the management of smaller size vestibular schwannomas, surgical treatment seems to offer a high rate of facial nerve preservation, a reasonable rate of hearing sparing, and a high total resection rate. Clinicians should consider surgical treatment as a valid option in the initial management of symptomatic small vestibular schwannomas in younger patients.