Neurosurg Focus 33 (3):E14, 2012
Various studies report outcomes of vestibular schwannoma (VS) surgery, but few studies have compared outcomes across the various approaches. The authors conducted a systematic review of the available data on VS surgery, comparing the different approaches and their associated complications.
Methods. MEDLINE searches were conducted to collect studies that reported information on patients undergoing VS surgery. The authors set inclusion criteria for such studies, including the availability of follow-up data for at least 3 months, inclusion of preoperative and postoperative audiometric data, intraoperative monitoring, and reporting of results using established and standardized metrics. Data were collected on hearing loss, facial nerve dysfunction, persistent postoperative headache, CSF leak, operative mortality, residual tumor, tumor recurrence, cranial nerve (CN) dysfunction involving nerves other than CN VII or VIII, and other neurological complications. The authors reviewed data from 35 studies pertaining to 5064 patients who had undergone VS surgery.
Results. The analyses for hearing loss and facial nerve dysfunction were stratified into the following tumor categories: intracanalicular (IC), size (extrameatal diameter) < 1.5 cm, size 1.5–3.0 cm, and size > 3.0 cm. The middle cranial fossa approach was found to be superior to the retrosigmoid approach for hearing preservation in patients with tumors < 1.5 cm (hearing loss in 43.6% vs 64.3%, p < 0.001). All other size categories showed no significant difference between middle cranial fossa and retrosigmoid approaches with respect to hearing loss. The retrosigmoid approach was associated with significantly less facial nerve dysfunction in patients with IC tumors than the middle cranial fossa method was; however, neither differed significantly from the translabyrinthine corridor (4%, 16.7%, 0%, respectively, p < 0.001). The middle cranial fossa approach differed significantly from the translabyrinthine approach for patients with tumors < 1.5 cm, whereas neither differed from the retrosigmoid approach (3.3%, 11.5%, and 7.2%, respectively, p = 0.001). The retrosigmoid approach involved less facial nerve dysfunction than the middle cranial fossa or translabyrinthine approaches for tumors 1.5–3.0 cm (6.1%, 17.3%, and 15.8%, respectively; p < 0.001). The retrosigmoid approach was also superior to the translabyrinthine approach for tumors > 3.0 cm (30.2% vs 42.5%, respectively, p < 0.001). Postoperative headache was significantly more likely after the retrosigmoid approach than after the translabyrinthine approach, but neither differed significantly from the middle cranial fossa approach (17.3%, 0%, and 8%, respectively; p < 0.001). The incidence of CSF leak was significantly greater after the retrosigmoid approach than after either the middle cranial fossa or translabyrinthine approaches (10.3%, 5.3%, 7.1%; p = 0.001). The incidences of residual tumor, mortality, major non-CN complications, residual tumor, tumor recurrence, and dysfunction of other cranial nerves were not significantly different across the approaches.
Conclusions. The middle cranial fossa approach seems safest for hearing preservation in patients with smaller tumors. Based on the data, the retrosigmoid approach seems to be the most versatile corridor for facial nerve preservation for most tumor sizes, but it is associated with a higher risk of postoperative pain and CSF fistula. The translabyrinthine approach is associated with complete hearing loss but may be useful for patients with large tumors and poor preoperative hearing.