Optimal access route for pontine cavernous malformation resection with preservation of abducens and facial nerve function

J Neurosurg 135:683–692, 2021

The aim of this study was to analyze the differences between posterolateral and posteromedial approaches to pontine cavernous malformations (PCMs) in order to verify the hypothesis that a posterolateral approach is more favorable with regard to preservation of abducens and facial nerve function.

METHODS The authors conducted a retrospective analysis of 135 consecutive patients who underwent microsurgical resection of a PCM. The vascular lesions were first classified in a blinded fashion into 4 categories according to the possible or only reasonable surgical access route. In a second step, the lesions were assessed according to which approach was performed and different patient groups and subgroups were determined. In a third step, the modified Rankin Scale score and the rates of permanent postoperative abducens and facial nerve palsies were assessed.

RESULTS The largest group in this series comprised 77 patients. Their pontine lesion was eligible for resection from either a posterolateral or posteromedial approach, in contrast to the remaining 3 patient groups in which the lesion location already had dictated a specific surgical approach. Fifty-four of these 77 individuals underwent surgery via a posterolateral approach and 23 via a posteromedial approach. When comparing these 2 patient subgroups, there was a statistically significant difference between postoperative rates of permanent abducens (3.7% vs 21.7%) and facial (1.9% vs 21.7%) nerve palsies. In the entire patient population, the abducens and facial nerve deficit rates were 5.9% and 5.2%, respectively, and the modified Rankin Scale score significantly decreased from 1.6 ± 1.1 preoperatively to 1.0 ± 1.1 at follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS The authors’ results suggest favoring a posterolateral over a posteromedial access route to PCMs in patients in whom a lesion is encountered that can be removed via either surgical approach. In the present series, the authors have found such a constellation in 57% of all patients. This retrospective analysis confirms their hypothesis in a large patient cohort. Additionally, the authors demonstrated that 4 types of PCMs can be distinguished by preoperatively evaluating whether only one reasonable or two alternative surgical approaches are available to access a specific lesion. The rates of postoperative sixth and seventh nerve palsies in this series are substantially lower than those in the majority of other published reports.

The Validity of the Koos Classification System With Respect to Facial Nerve Function

Neurosurgery 88:E523–E528, 2021

The Koos classification of vestibular schwannomas is designed to stratify tumors based on extrameatal extension and compression of the brainstem. Our prior study demonstrated excellent reliability. No study has yet assessed its validity.

OBJECTIVE: To present a retrospective study designed to assess the validity of the Koos grading system with respect to facial nerve function following treatment of 81 acoustic schwannomas.

METHODS: We collected data retrospectively from 81 patients with acoustic schwannomas of various Koos grades who were treated with microsurgical resection or stereotactic radiosurgery. House-Brackmann (HB) scores were used to assess facial nerve function and obtained at various time points following treatment. We generated Spearman’s rho and Kendall’s tau correlation coefficients along with a logistic regression curve.

RESULTS: We found no significant difference in the presence or absence of facial dysfunction by Koos classification when looking at all patients. There was a positive but fairly weak correlation between HB score and Koos classification, which was only significant at the first postoperative clinic appointment. There was a statistically significant difference in the presence or absence of facial dysfunction between patients treated with surgery vs radiation, which we expected. We found no statistically significant difference when comparing surgical approaches. Logistic regression modeling demonstrated a poor ability of the Koos grading system to predict facial nerve dysfunction following treatment.

CONCLUSION: The Koos grading system did not predict the presence of absence of facial nerve dysfunction in our study population. There were trends within subgroups that require further exploration.

A critical comparison between the semisitting and the supine positioning in vestibular schwannoma surgery: subgroup analysis of a randomized, multicenter trial

J Neurosurg 133:249–256, 2020

Patient positioning in vestibular schwannoma (VS) surgery is a matter of ongoing discussion. Factors to consider include preservation of cranial nerve functions, extent of tumor resection, and complications. The objective of this study was to determine the optimal patient positioning in VS surgery.

METHODS A subgroup analysis of a randomized, multicenter trial that investigated the efficacy of prophylactic nimodipine in VS surgery was performed to investigate the impact of positioning (semisitting or supine) on extent of resection, functional outcomes, and complications. The data of 97 patients were collected prospectively. All procedures were performed via a retrosigmoid approach. The semisitting position was chosen in 56 patients, whereas 41 patients were treated while supine.

RESULTS Complete resection was obtained at a higher percentage in the semisitting as compared to the supine position (93% vs 73%, p = 0.002). Logistic regression analysis revealed significantly better facial nerve function in the early postoperative course in the semisitting group (p = 0.004), particularly concerning severe facial nerve paresis (House- Brackmann grade IV or worse; p = 0.002). One year after surgery, facial nerve function recovered. However, there was still a tendency for better facial nerve function in the semisitting group (p = 0.091). There were no significant differences between groups regarding hearing preservation rates. Venous air embolism with the necessity to terminate surgery occurred in 2 patients in the semisitting position (3.6%). Supplementary analysis with a 2-tailed permutation randomization with 10,000 permutations of treatment choice and a propensity score matching showed either a tendency or significant results for better facial nerve outcomes in the early postoperative course and extent of resection in the semisitting group.

CONCLUSIONS Although the results of the various statistical analyses are not uniform, the data indicate better results concerning both a higher rate of complete removal (according to the intraoperative impression of the surgeon) and facial nerve function after a semisitting as compared to the supine position. These advantages may justify the potential higher risk for severe complications of the semisitting position in VS surgery. The choice of positioning has to consider all individual patient parameters and risks carefully.

Intraoperative facial motor evoked potential monitoring for pontine cavernous malformation resection

J Neurosurg 132:265–271, 2020

The aim of this study was to predict postoperative facial nerve function during pontine cavernous malformation surgery by monitoring facial motor evoked potentials (FMEPs).

METHODS From 2008 to 2017, 10 patients with pontine cavernous malformations underwent total resection via the trans–fourth ventricle floor approach with FMEP monitoring. House-Brackmann grades and Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) scores were obtained pre- and postoperatively. The surgeries were performed using one of 2 safe entry zones into the brainstem: the suprafacial triangle and infrafacial triangle approaches. Six patients underwent the suprafacial triangle approach, and 4 patients underwent the infrafacial triangle approach. A cranial peg screw electrode was used to deliver electrical stimulation for FMEP by a train of 4 or 5 pulse anodal constant current stimulation. FMEP was recorded from needle electrodes on the ipsilateral facial muscles and monitored throughout surgery by using a threshold- level stimulation method.

RESULTS FMEPs were recorded and analyzed in 8 patients; they were not recorded in 2 patients who had severe preoperative facial palsy and underwent an infrafacial triangle approach. Warning signs appeared in all patients who underwent the suprafacial triangle approach. However, after temporarily stopping the procedures, FMEP findings during surgery showed recovery of the thresholds. FMEPs in patients who underwent the infrafacial triangle approach were stable during the surgery. House-Brackmann grades were unchanged postoperatively in all patients. Postoperative KPS scores improved in 3 patients, decreased in 1, and remained the same in 6 patients.

CONCLUSIONS FMEPs can be used to monitor facial nerve function during surgery for pontine cavernous malformations, especially when the suprafacial triangle approach is performed.

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.


In vivo visualization of the facial nerve in patients with acoustic neuroma using diffusion tensor imaging–based fiber tracking


J Neurosurg 125:787–794, 2016

Preoperative determination of the facial nerve (FN) course is essential to preserving its function. Neither regular preoperative imaging examination nor intraoperative electrophysiological monitoring is able to determine the exact position of the FN. The diffusion tensor imaging–based fiber tracking (DTI-FT) technique has been widely used for the preoperative noninvasive visualization of the neural fasciculus in the white matter of brain. However, further studies are required to establish its role in the preoperative visualization of the FN in acoustic neuroma surgery. The object of this study is to evaluate the feasibility of using DTI-FT to visualize the FN.

Methods: Data from 15 patients with acoustic neuromas were collected using 3-T MRI. The visualized FN course and its position relative to the tumors were determined using DTI-FT with 3D Slicer software. The preoperative visualization results of FN tracking were verified using microscopic observation and electrophysiological monitoring during microsurgery.

Results: Preoperative visualization of the FN using DTI-FT was observed in 93.3% of the patients. However, in 92.9% of the patients, the FN visualization results were consistent with the actual surgery.

Conclusions: DTI-FT, in combination with intraoperative FN electrophysiological monitoring, demonstrated improved FN preservation in patients with acoustic neuroma. FN visualization mainly included the facial-vestibular nerve complex of the FN and vestibular nerve.

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.

The behavior of residual tumors and facial nerve outcomes after incomplete excision of vestibular schwannomas

 incomplete excision of vestibular schwannomas

J Neurosurg 120:1278–1287, 2014

The authors evaluated the behavior of residual tumors and facial nerve outcomes after incomplete excision of vestibular schwannomas (VSs).

Methods. The case records of all patients who underwent surgical treatment of VSs were analyzed. All patients in whom an incomplete excision had been performed were analyzed. Incomplete excision was defined as near-total resection (NTR), subtotal resection (STR), and partial resection (PR). Tumors in the NTR and STR categories were followed up with a wait-and-rescan approach, whereas the tumors in the PR category were subjected to a second- stage surgery and were excluded from this series. All patients included in the study underwent baseline MRI at the 3rd and 12th postoperative months, and repeat imaging was subsequently performed every year for 7–10 years postoperatively or as indicated clinically. Preoperative and postoperative facial function was noted.

Results. Of the 2368 patients who underwent surgery for VS, 111 patients who had incomplete excisions of VSs were included in the study. Of these patients, 73 (65.77%) had undergone NTR and 38 (34.23%) had undergone STR. Of the VSs, 62 (55.86%) were cystic and 44 (70.97%) of these cystic VSs underwent NTR. The residual tumor was left behind on the facial nerve alone in 62 patients (55.86%), on the facial nerve and vessels in 2 patients (1.80%), on the facial nerve and brainstem in 15 patients (13.51%), and on the brainstem alone in 25 patients (22.52%). In the 105 patients with normal preoperative facial nerve function, postoperative facial nerve function was House-Brackmann (HB) Grades I and II in 51 patients (48.57%), HB Grade III in 34 patients (32.38%), and HB Grades IV–VI in 20 pa- tients (19.05%). Seven patients (6.3%) showed evidence of tumor regrowth on follow-up MRI. All 7 patients (100%) who showed evidence of tumor regrowth had undergone STR. No patient in the NTR group exhibited regrowth. The Kaplan-Meier plot demonstrated a 5-year tumor regrowth-free survival of 92%, with a mean disease-free interval of 140 months (95% CI 127–151 months). The follow-up period ranged from 12 to 156 months (mean 45.4 months).

Conclusions. The authors’ report and review of the literature show that there is undoubtedly merit for NTR and STR for preservation of the facial nerve. On the basis of this they propose an algorithm for the management of incomplete VS excisions. Patients who undergo incomplete excisions must be subjected to follow-up MRI for a period of at least 7–10 years. When compared with STR, NTR via an enlarged translabyrinthine approach has shown to have a lower rate of regrowth of residual tumor, while having almost the same result in terms of facial nerve function.



Medial acoustic neuromas: clinical and surgical implications

Medial VIII schwannoma

J Neurosurg 120:1095–1104, 2014

Medial acoustic neuroma is a rare entity that confers a distinct clinical syndrome. It is scarcely discussed in the literature and is associated with adverse features. This study evaluates the clinical and imaging features, pertinent surgical challenges, and treatment outcome in a large series of this variant. The authors postulate that the particular pathological anatomy with its arachnoidal rearrangement has a profound implication on the surgical technique and outcome.

Methods. The authors conducted a retrospective analysis of 52 cases involving 33 women and 19 men who underwent resection of medial acoustic neuromas performed by the senior author (O.A.) over a 20-year period (1993– 2013). Clinical, radiological, and operative records were reviewed, with a specific focus on the neurological outcomes and facial nerve function and hearing preservation. Intraoperative findings were analyzed with respect to the effect of arachnoidal arrangement on the surgeon’s ability to resect the lesion and the impact on postoperative function.

Results. The average tumor size was 34.5 mm (maximum diameter), with over 90% of tumors being 25 mm or larger and 71% being cystic. Cerebellar, trigeminal nerve, and facial nerve dysfunction were common preoperative findings. Hydrocephalus was present in 11 patients. Distinguishing intraoperative findings included marked tumor adherence to the brainstem and frequent hypervascularity, which prompted intracapsular dissection resulting in enhancement on postoperative MRI in 18 cases, with only 3 demonstrating growth on follow-up. There was no mortality or major postoperative neurological deficit. Cerebrospinal fluid leak was encountered in 7 patients, with 4 requiring surgical repair. Among 45 patients who had intact preoperative facial function, only 1 had permanent facial nerve paralysis on extended follow-up. Of the patients with preoperative Grade I–II facial function, 87% continued to have Grade I–II function on follow-up. Of 10 patients who had Class A hearing preoperatively, 5 continued to have Class A or B hearing after surgery.

Conclusions. Medial acoustic neuromas represent a rare subgroup whose site of origin and growth patterns produce a distinct clinical presentation and present specific operative challenges. They reach giant size and are frequently cystic and hypervascular. Their origin and growth pattern lead to arachnoidal rearrangement with marked adherence against the brainstem, which is critical in the surgical management. Excellent surgical outcome is achievable with a high rate of facial nerve function and attainable hearing preservation. These results suggest that similar or better results may be achieved in less complex tumors.

Functional outcome and postoperative complications after the microsurgical removal of large vestibular schwannomas via the retrosigmoid approach: a meta-analysis


Neurosurg Rev (2014) 37:15–21

For large (≥30 mm) or giant (≥40 mm) vestibular schwannomas (VSs) for which microsurgical removal is the main treatment option, complete tumour resection and the preservation of acceptable facial nerve function can be safely and successfully achieved via the retrosigmoid approach.

We performed a meta-analysis to provide a reliable estimate of functional outcome and postoperative complications for patients treated surgically for large VSs. We conducted a comprehensive search in Pubmed, Embase and the Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) databases to identify publications that included only patients in whom the VSs were >3.0 cm in maximal diameter and microsurgically removed by a retrosigmoid approach. Pooled estimates of proportions with corresponding 95 % confidence intervals were calculated using the Freeman–Tukey double arcsine transformation. This meta-analysis revealed that the pooled proportion of gross total resections was 79.1 % (95 % CI, 64.2–90.8 %; I2=95.4 %). By combining microsurgical techniques with continuous electrophysiological monitoring, the anatomical preservation of the facial nerve at the end of surgery was achieved in 88.8 % (95 % CI, 83.6–93.2 %; I2=76.1 %) of the patients. The pooled proportion of good postoperative facial nerve function (House–Brackmann (HB) grades I–II) was 62.9 % (95 % CI, 50.0–74.9 %; I2=91.1 %). Cerebrospinal fluid leakage was reported in 7.8 % (95 % CI, 4.8–11.4 %; I2=49.8 %) of the patients. The mortality rate was 0.87 % (95 % CI, 0.22–1.78 %; I2=4.9 %).

Our meta-analysis revealed that for large VSs, very favourable results can be obtained using the retrosigmoid approach with minimal mortality, especially with respect to anatomical and functional facial nerve preservation.

Staged resection of large vestibular schwannomas

J Neurosurg 116:1126–1133, 2012.(http://thejns.org/doi/abs/10.3171/2012.1.JNS111402)

Staged resection of large vestibular schwannomas (VSs) has been proposed as a strategy to improve facial nerve outcomes and morbidity. The authors report their experience with 2-stage resections of large VSs and analyze the indications, facial nerve outcomes, surgical results, and complications. The authors compare these results with those of a similar cohort of patients who underwent a single-stage resection.

Methods. A retrospective review of all patients (age > 18 years) who underwent surgery from 2002 to 2010 for large (≥ 3 cm) VSs at the authors’ institution with a minimum of 6 months follow-up was undertaken. A first-stage retrosigmoid approach (without meatal drilling) was performed to remove the cerebellopontine angle portion of the tumor and to decompress the brainstem. A decision to stage the operation was made intraoperatively if there was cerebellar or brainstem edema, excessive tumor adherence to the facial nerve or brainstem, a poorly stimulating facial nerve, or a thinned or splayed facial nerve. A second-stage translabyrinthine approach was performed at a later date to remove the remaining tumor. The single-stage resection consisted of a retrosigmoid approach with meatal drilling. Patient charts were evaluated for tumor size, extent of resection, tumor recurrence, House-Brackmann facial nerve function grade, and complications.

Results. Twenty-eight and 19 patients underwent 2- or single-stage resection of a large VS, respectively. The average tumor size was 3.9 cm (range 3.2–7 cm) in the 2-stage group and 3.9 cm (range 3.1–5 cm) in the single-stage group. The mean follow-up was 36 ± 19 months in the 2-stage group versus 24 ± 14 months in the single-stage group. Gross-total or near-total resection was achieved in 27 (96.4%) of 28 patients in the 2-stage group and 15 (79%) of 19 patients in the single-stage group (p < 0.01). Anatomical facial nerve preservation was achieved in all but 1 patient (94.7%), and there were no recurrences on follow-up imaging in the 2-stage group. Good facial nerve functional outcome (House-Brackmann Grades I and II) at last follow-up was achieved in 23 (82%) of 28 patients in the 2-stage group and 10 (53%) of 19 patients in the single-stage group (p < 0.01). Cerebrospinal fluid leak–related complications (intracranial hypotension, blood patch, and lumboperitoneal shunt for pseudomeningocele) were more common in the 2-stage group. There were no postoperative strokes, hemorrhages, or deaths in either group.

Conclusions. The authors’ results suggest that staged resection of large VSs may potentially achieve better facial nerve outcomes. There does not appear to be added neurological morbidity with staged resections

Preoperative identification of the facial nerve in patients with large cerebellopontine angle tumors using high-density diffusion tensor imaging


J Neurosurg 116:697–702, 2012. http://thejns.org/doi/abs/10.3171/2011.12.JNS111404

Facial nerve paresis can be a devastating complication following resection of large (> 2.5 cm) cerebellopontine angle (CPA) tumors. The authors have developed and used a new high-density diffusion tensor imaging (HD-DT imaging) method, aimed at preoperatively identifying the location and course of the facial nerve in relation to large CPA tumors. Their study objective was to preoperatively identify the facial nerve in patients with large CPA tumors and compare their HD-DT imaging method with a traditional standard DT imaging method and correlate with intraoperative findings.

Methods. The authors prospectively studied 5 patients with large (> 2.5 cm) CPA tumors. All patients underwent preoperative traditional standard- and HD-DT imaging. Imaging results were correlated with intraoperative findings.

Results. Utilizing their HD-DT imaging method, the authors positively identified the location and course of the facial nerve in all patients. In contrast, using a standard DT imaging method, the authors were unable to identify the facial nerve in 4 of the 5 patients.

Conclusions. The HD-DT imaging method that the authors describe and use has proven to be a powerful, accurate, and rapid method for preoperatively identifying the facial nerve in relation to large CPA tumors. Routine integration of HD-DT imaging in preoperative planning for CPA tumor resection could lead to improved facial nerve preservation.

Diffusion tensor imaging–based fiber tracking for prediction of the position of the facial nerve in relation to large vestibular schwannomas

J Neurosurg 115:1087–1093, 2011. DOI: 10.3171/2011.7.JNS11495

The reliable preoperative visualization of facial nerve location in relation to vestibular schwannoma (VS) would allow surgeons to plan tumor removal accordingly and may increase the safety of surgery. In this prospective study, the authors attempted to validate the reliability of facial nerve diffusion tensor (DT) imaging–based fiber tracking in a series of patients with large VSs. Furthermore, the authors evaluated the potential of this visualization technique to predict the morphological shape of the facial nerve (tumor compression–related flattening of the nerve).

Methods. Diffusion tensor imaging and anatomical images (constructive interference in steady state) were acquired in a series of 22 consecutive patients with large VSs and postprocessed with navigational software to obtain facial nerve fiber tracking. The location of the cerebellopontine angle (CPA) part of the nerve in relation to the tumor was recorded during surgery by the surgeon, who was blinded to the results of the fiber tracking. A correlative analysis was performed of the imaging-based location of the nerve compared with its in situ position in relation to the VS.

Results. Fibers corresponding to the anatomical location and course of the facial nerve from the brainstem to the internal auditory meatus were identified with the DT imaging–based fiber tracking technique in all 22 cases. The location of the CPA segment of the facial nerve in relation to the VS determined during surgery corresponded to the location of the fibers, predicted by the DT imaging–based fiber tracking, in 20 (90.9%) of the 22 patients. No DT imaging–based fiber tracking correlates were found with the 2 morphological types of the nerve (compact or flat).

Conclusions. The current study of patients with large VSs has shown that the position of the facial nerve in relation to the tumor can be predicted reliably (in 91%) using DT imaging–based fiber tracking. These are preliminary results that need further verification in a larger series.

Management of large vestibular schwannoma. Part II. Primary Gamma Knife surgery: radiological and clinical aspects

J Neurosurg 115:885–893, 2011.DOI: 10.3171/2011.6.JNS101963

In large vestibular schwannomas (VSs), microsurgery is the main treatment option. A wait-and-scan policy or radiosurgery are generally not recommended given concerns of further lesion growth or increased mass effect due to transient swelling. Note, however, that some patients do not present with symptomatic mass effect or may still have serviceable hearing. Moreover, others may be old, suffer from severe comorbidity, or refuse any surgery. In this study the authors report the results in patients with large, growing VSs primarily treated with Gamma Knife surgery (GKS), with special attention to volumetric growth, control rate, and symptoms.

Methods. The authors retrospectively analyzed 33 consecutive patients who underwent GKS for large, growing VSs, which were defined as > 6 cm3 and at least indenting the brainstem. Patients with neurofibromatosis Type 2 were excluded from analysis, as were patients who had undergone previous treatment. Volume measurements were performed on contrast-enhanced T1-weighted MR images at the time of GKS and during follow-up. Medical charts were analyzed for clinical symptoms.

Results. Radiological growth control was achieved in 88% of cases, clinical control (that is, no need for further treatment) in 79% of cases. The median follow-up was 30 months, and the mean VS volume was 8.8 cm3 (range 6.1–17.7 cm3). No major complications occurred, although ventriculoperitoneal shunts were placed in 2 patients. The preservation of serviceable hearing and facial and trigeminal nerve function was achieved in 58%, 91%, and 86% of patients, respectively, with any facial and trigeminal neuropathy being transient. In 92% of the patients presenting with trigeminal hypesthesia before GKS, the condition resolved during follow-up. No patient- or VS-related feature was correlated with growth.

Conclusions. Primary GKS for large VSs leads to acceptable radiological growth rates and clinical control rates, with the chance of hearing preservation. Although a higher incidence of clinical control failure and postradiosurgical morbidity is noted, as compared with that for smaller VSs, primary radiosurgery is suitable for a selected group of patients. The absence of symptomatology due to mass effect on the brainstem or cerebellum is essential, as are close clinical and radiological follow-ups, because there is little reserve for growth or swelling.

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.

A Real-Time Monitoring System for the Facial Nerve

Neurosurgery:June 2010 – Volume 66 (6):1064–1073. DOI:10.1227/01.NEU.0000369605.79765.3E

Damage to the facial nerve during surgery in the cerebellopontine angle is indicated by A-trains, a specific electromyogram pattern. These A-trains can be quantified by the parameter “traintime,” which is reliably correlated with postoperative functional outcome. The system presented was designed to monitor traintime in real-time.

METHODS: A dedicated hardware and software platform for automated continuous analysis of the intraoperative facial nerve electromyogram was specifically designed. The automatic detection of A-trains is performed by a software algorithm for real-time analysis of nonstationary biosignals. The system was evaluated in a series of 30 patients operated on for vestibular schwannoma.

RESULTS: A-trains can be detected and measured automatically by the described method for real-time analysis. Traintime is monitored continuously via a graphic display and is shown as an absolute numeric value during the operation. It is an expression of overall, cumulated length of A-trains in a given channel; a high correlation between traintime as measured by real-time analysis and functional outcome immediately after the operation (Spearman correlation coefficient [ρ] = 0.664, P < .001) and in long-term outcome (ρ = 0.631, P < .001) was observed.

CONCLUSION: Automated real-time analysis of the intraoperative facial nerve electromyogram is the first technique capable of reliable continuous real-time monitoring. It can critically contribute to the estimation of functional outcome during the course of the operative procedure.

Functional outcome after complete surgical removal of giant vestibular schwannomas

J Neurosurg 112:860–867, 2010. (DOI: 10.3171/2009.7.JNS0989)
The authors evaluated the outcome of radical surgery in a consecutive series of patients with giant vestibular schwannomas (VSs).
Methods. Fifty patients with VSs > 4.0 cm in maximal extrameatal diameter were included in this retrospective study (Group A). The group was compared with a matched group of 167 patients with VSs < 3.9 cm (Group B). In all cases the retrosigmoid approach was used. Outcome measures included completeness of tumor removal, facial nerve function, hearing, and the surgery-related complication rate.
Results. The mean tumor size in Group A was 4.4 cm and that in Group B was 2.3 cm. Total removal was achieved in all Group A patients and in 97.6% of Group B patients. The anatomical integrity of the facial nerve was preserved in 92% in Group A and in 98.8% in Group B. At last follow-up 75% of the patients with giant VSs had excellent or good facial nerve function, 19% had fair function, and 6% had poor function. In 33% of patients (3 cases) with good preoperative hearing level, it was preserved. Newly developed lower cranial nerve dysfunction occurred in 3 patients but proved to be temporary in 2 of them. A CSF leak developed in 6% of those who not previously undergone surgery. Compared with Group B, a significant difference was found only in the rates of the following parameters: excellent facial nerve function, useful and good hearing, lower cranial nerve dysfunction, and blood collection (p < 0.05). The perioperative mortality rate in both groups was 0%.
Conclusions. In patients with a giant VS, total tumor removal can be achieved via the retrosigmoid approach with a 0% mortality rate and low morbidity rate, especially with regards to facial nerve function. In selected cases even hearing preservation is possible. Tumor size significantly correlates with postoperative outcome.