Presence of a fundal fluid cap on preoperative magnetic resonance imaging may predict long-term facial nerve function after resection of vestibular schwannoma via the retrosigmoid approach

J Neurosurg 138:972–980, 2023

Preservation of neurological function is a priority when performing a resection of a vestibular schwannoma (VS). Few studies have examined the radiographic value of a fundal fluid cap—i.e., cerebrospinal fluid in the lateral end of a VS within the internal auditory canal—for prediction of postoperative neurological function. The aim of this study was to clarify whether the presence of a fundal fluid cap on preoperative magnetic resonance images has a clinical impact on facial nerve function after resection of VSs.

METHODS The presence of a fundal fluid cap and its prognostic impact on long-term postoperative facial nerve function were analyzed.

RESULTS A fundal fluid cap was present in 102 of 143 patients who underwent resection of sporadic VSs via the retrosigmoid approach. Facial nerve function was acceptable (House-Brackmann grade I–II) immediately after surgery in 82 (80.4%) patients with a fundal fluid cap and in 26 (63.4%) of those without this sign. The preservation rate of facial nerve function increased in a time-dependent manner after surgery in patients with a fundal fluid cap but plateaued by 3 months postoperatively in those without a fundal fluid cap; the difference was statistically significant at 12 months (96.1% vs 82.9%, p = 0.013) and 24 months (97.1% vs 82.9%, p = 0.006) after surgery. The presence of a fundal fluid cap had a significantly positive effect on long-term facial nerve function at 24 months after surgery when tumor size and intraoperative neuromonitoring response were taken into account (OR 5.55, 95% CI 1.12–27.5, p = 0.034).

CONCLUSIONS Neuromonitoring-guided microsurgery for total resection of VSs is more likely to be successful in terms of preservation of facial nerve function if a fundal fluid cap is present. This preoperative radiographic sign could be helpful when counseling patients and deciding the treatment strategy.