Impact of vestibular nerve preservation on facial and hearing outcomes in small vestibular schwannoma surgery

Acta Neurochirurgica (2021) 163:2219–2224

Management of small vestibular schwannomas (VSs) remains controversial. When surgery is chosen, the preservation of facial and cochlear nerve function is a priority. In this report, we introduce and evaluate a technique to anatomically preserve the vestibular nerves to minimize manipulation and preserve the function of the facial and cochlear nerves.

Methods The vestibular nerve preservation technique was prospectively applied to resect small VS tumors in patients with serviceable preoperative hearing (American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) class A or B). Clinical and radiological data were recorded and analyzed.

Results Ten patients met the inclusion criteria. The mean (SD) age was 40.4 (12.5) years. Follow-up ranged from 6 weeks to 2 years. The maximum tumor diameter parallel to the internal auditory canal ranged from 10 to 20 mm (mean, 14.9 (3.1) mm). There were three Koos grade 3 and seven Koos grade 2 tumors. Gross total resection was achieved in all cases. Both the facial and cochlear nerves were anatomically preserved in all cases. Postoperatively, 7 patients (70%) remained in the AAO-HNS class A or B hearing category. None of the patients had new vestibular symptoms, and all had House–Brackmann grade 1 facial function. Nervus intermedius dysfunction was observed in 1 patient preoperatively, which worsened postoperatively. Two patients had new nervus intermedius symptoms postoperatively.

Conclusion Improvement of facial nerve and hearing outcomes is feasible through the intentional preservation of the vestibular nerves in the resection of small VSs. Longer follow-up is required to rule out tumor recurrence.

Perpetuation of errors in illustrations of cranial nerve anatomy

J Neurosurg 127:192–198, 2017

For more than 230 years, anatomical illustrations have faithfully reproduced the German medical student Thomas Soemmerring’s cranial nerve (CN) arrangement. Virtually all contemporary atlases show the abducens, facial, and vestibulocochlear nerves (CNs VI–VIII) all emerging from the pontomedullary groove, as originally depicted by Soemmerring in 1778.

Direct observation at microsurgery of the cerebellopontine angle reveals that CN VII emerges caudal to the CN VIII root from the lower lateral pons rather than the pontomedullary groove. Additionally, the CN VI root lies in the pontomedullary groove caudal to both CN VII and VIII in the vast majority of cases.

In this high-resolution 3D MRI study, the exit location of CN VI was caudal to the CN VII/VIII complex in 93% of the cases. Clearly, Soemmerring’s rostrocaudal numbering system of CN VI-VII-VIII (abducens-facial-vestibulocochlear CNs) should instead be VIII-VII-VI (vestibulocochlear- facial-abducens CNs). While the inaccuracy of the CN numbering system is of note, what is remarkable is that generations of authors have almost universally chosen to perpetuate this ancient error. No doubt some did this through faithful copying of their predecessors. Others, it could be speculated, chose to depict the CN relationships incorrectly rather than run contrary to long-established dogma.

This study is not advocating that a universally recognized numbering scheme be revised, as this would certainly create confusion. The authors do advocate that future depictions of the anatomical arrangements of the brainstem roots of CNs VI, VII, and VIII ought to reflect actual anatomy, rather than be contorted to conform with the classical CN numbering system.

 

Combined use of diffusion tensor tractography and multifused contrast-enhanced FIESTA for predicting facial and cochlear nerve positions in relation to vestibular schwannoma

Combined use of diffusion tensor tractography and multifused contrast-enhanced FIESTA for predicting facial and cochlear nerve positions in relation to vestibular schwannoma

J Neurosurg 123:1480–1488, 2015

The authors assessed whether the combined use of diffusion tensor tractography (DTT) and contrastenhanced (CE) fast imaging employing steady-state acquisition (FIESTA) could improve the accuracy of predicting the courses of the facial and cochlear nerves before surgery.

Methods The population was composed of 22 patients with vestibular schwannoma in whom both the facial and cochlear nerves could be identified during surgery. According to DTT, depicted fibers running from the internal auditory canal to the brainstem were judged to represent the facial or vestibulocochlear nerve. With regard to imaging, the authors investigated multifused CE-FIESTA scans, in which all 3D vessel models were shown simultaneously, from various angles. The low-intensity areas running along the tumor from brainstem to the internal auditory canal were judged to represent the facial or vestibulocochlear nerve.

Results For all 22 patients, the rate of fibers depicted by DTT coinciding with the facial nerve was 13.6% (3/22), and that of fibers depicted by DTT coinciding with the cochlear nerve was 63.6% (14/22). The rate of candidates for nerves predicted by multifused CE-FIESTA coinciding with the facial nerve was 59.1% (13/22), and that of candidates for nerves predicted by multifused CE-FIESTA coinciding with the cochlear nerve was 4.5% (1/22). The rate of candidates for nerves predicted by combined DTT and multifused CE-FIESTA coinciding with the facial nerve was 63.6% (14/22), and that of candidates for nerves predicted by combined DTT and multifused CE-FIESTA coinciding with the cochlear nerve was 63.6% (14/22). The rate of candidates predicted by DTT coinciding with both facial and cochlear nerves was 0.0% (0/22), that of candidates predicted by multifused CE-FIESTA coinciding with both facial and cochlear nerves was 4.5% (1/22), and that of candidates predicted by combined DTT and multifused CE-FIESTA coinciding with both the facial and cochlear nerves was 45.5% (10/22).

Conclusions By using a combination of DTT and multifused CE-FIESTA, the authors were able to increase the number of vestibular schwannoma patients for whom predicted results corresponded with the courses of both the facial and cochlear nerves, a result that has been considered difficult to achieve by use of a single modality only. Although the 3D image including these prediction results helped with comprehension of the 3D operative anatomy, the reliability of prediction remains to be established.

Dorsal location of the cochlear nerve on vestibular schwannoma: preoperative evaluation, frequency, and functional outcome

Dorsal location of the cochlear nerve on vestibular schwannoma

Neurosurg Rev (2013) 36:39–44

The cochlear nerve is most commonly located on the caudoventral portion of the capsule of vestibular schwannomas and rarely on the dorsal portion. In such a condition, total removal of the tumor without cochlear nerve dysfunction is extremely difficult.

The purpose of our study was to identify the frequency of this anatomical condition and the status of postoperative cochlear nerve function; we also discuss the preoperative radiological findings.

The study involved 114 patients with unilateral vestibular schwannomas operated on via a retrosigmoid (lateral suboccipital) approach. Locations of the cochlear nerve on the tumor capsule were ventral, dorsal, caudal, and rostral. Ventral and dorsal locations were further subdivided into rostral, middle, and caudal third of the tumor capsule. The postoperative cochlear nerve function and preoperative magnetic resonance (MR) findings were reviewed retrospectively.

In 56 patients that had useful preoperative hearing, useful hearing was retained in 50.0 % (28 of 56) of patients after surgery. The cochlear nerve was located on the dorsal portion of the tumor capsule in four patients (3.5 %), and useful hearing was preserved in only one of these patients (25 %) in whom the tumor had been partially resected.

This tumor-nerve anatomical relationship was identified in all tumors of <2 cm at preoperative MR cisternography. MR cisternography has the potential to identify the tumor–nerve anatomical relationship, especially in small-sized tumors that usually require therapeutic intervention that ensures hearing preservation. Hence, careful evaluation of the preoperative MR cisternography is important in deciding the therapeutic indications.