Management of large vestibular schwannoma. Part I. Planned subtotal resection followed by Gamma Knife surgery: radiological and clinical aspects

J Neurosurg 115:875–884, 2011. DOI: 10.3171/2011.6.JNS101958

In large vestibular schwannoma (VS), microsurgery is the main treatment option, and complete resection is considered the primary goal. However, previous studies have documented suboptimal facial nerve outcomes in patients who undergo complete resection of large VSs. Subtotal resection is likely to reduce the risk of facial nerve injury but increases the risk of lesion regrowth. Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) can be performed to achieve long-term growth control of residual VS after incomplete resection. In this study the authors report on the results in patients treated using planned subtotal resection followed by GKS with special attention to volumetric growth, control rate, and symptoms.

Methods. Fifty consecutive patients who underwent the combined treatment strategy of subtotal microsurgical removal and GKS for large VSs between 2002 and 2009 were retrospectively analyzed. Patients with neurofibromatosis Type 2 were excluded. Patient charts were reviewed for clinical symptoms. Audiograms were evaluated to classify hearing pre- and postoperatively. Preoperative and follow-up contrast-enhanced T1-weighted MR images were analyzed using volume-measuring software.

Results. Surgery was performed via a translabyrinthine (25 patients) or retrosigmoid (25 patients) approach. The median follow-up was 33.8 months. Clinical control was achieved in 92% of the cases and radiological control in 90%. One year after radiosurgery, facial nerve function was good (House-Brackmann Grade I or II) in 94% of the patients. One of the two patients who underwent surgery to preserve hearing maintained serviceable hearing after resection followed by GKS.

Conclusions. Considering the good tumor growth control and facial nerve function preservation as well as the possibility of preserving serviceable hearing and the low number of complications, subtotal resection followed by GKS can be the treatment option of choice for large VSs.