Surgical outcomes in large vestibular schwannomas: should cerebellopontine edema be considered in the grading systems?

Acta Neurochirurgica (2023) 165:1749–1755

Large (> 3 cm) vestibular schwannomas pose complexity in surgical management because of narrow working corridors and proximity to the cranial nerves, brainstem, and inner ear structures. With current vestibular schwannoma classifications limited in information regarding cerebellopontine edema, our retrospective series examined this radiographic feature relative to clinical outcomes and its possible role in preoperative scoring.

Methods Of 230 patients who underwent surgical resection of vestibular schwannoma (2014–2020), we identified 107 patients with Koos grades 3 or 4 tumors for radiographic assessment of edema in the middle cerebellar peduncle (MCP), brainstem, or both. Radiographic images were graded and patients grouped into Koos grades 3 or 4 or our proposed grade 5 with edema. Tumor volumes, radiographic features, clinical presentations, and clinical outcomes were evaluated.

Results The 107 patients included 22 patients with grade 3 tumors, 39 with grade 4, and 46 with grade 5. No statistical differences were noted among groups for demographic data or complication rates. Unlike grades 3 and 4 patients, grade 5 patients presented with worse hearing (p < 0.001), larger tumors (p < 0.001), lower rates of gross total resection (GTR), longer hospital stays, and higher rates of balance dysfunction.

Conclusion With edema detected in 43% of this cohort, special considerations are warranted for grade 5 vestibular schwannomas given the preoperative findings of worse hearing, lower GTR rates, longer hospital stays, and 96% who pursued postoperative balance therapy. We propose that grade 5 with edema offers a more nuanced interpretation of a radiographic feature that holds relevance to treatment selection and patient outcomes.

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.

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