Analysis of taste disturbance before and after surgery in patients with vestibular schwannoma

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Object. The frequency, nature, and history of subjective taste disturbance before and after vestibular schwannoma (VS) surgery was investigated.

Methods. Personal interviews were conducted in 108 patients with unilateral VS. Abnormalities in taste perception, either a significant reduction or a change in character, were experienced by 31 patients (28.7%) before surgery and by 37 (34.3%) after tumor removal. Preoperative taste disturbance worsened after surgery in five (16.1%) of the 31 patients, remained unchanged in eight (25.8%), improved in two (6.5%), and became normal in 16 (51.6%). Taste disturbance occurred postoperatively in 22 (28.6%) of 77 patients who had experienced no preoperative taste disturbance. The mean onset of the abnormality after resection was 1.1 ± 1.7 months. Postoperative taste disturbance resolved in 24 of the 37 patients (64.9%) within 1 year after onset.

Conclusions. Subjective taste disturbance was common before and after VS removal, and the natural history of this condition was very variable in the pre- and postoperative periods. All patients who undergo surgery for VS should receive appropriate counseling about the likelihood and course of postoperative complications, including dysfunction of the sensory component of the facial nerve.

Article Information

Address reprint requests to: Katsushige Watanabe, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, College of Medicine, The University of Tennessee at Memphis, 855 Monroe Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38163. email: katsuwatanabe-nsu@umin.ac.jp.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

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Figures

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    Bar graph showing the natural history of the preoperative taste function in the postoperative period. Each bar illustrates the frequency of the postoperative taste disturbance in patients with (taste dist. [+]) and without (taste dist. [−]) preoperative symptoms. Postoperative taste disturbance was classified into four categories: 1) deterioration; 2) no change; 3) improvement compared with the preoperative condition; and 4) absence of taste disturbance (normal function). N = number of patients.

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    Histogram showing the onset time of taste disturbance.

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    Bar graph depicting the difference in the electrically confirmed taste thresholds between the areas innervated by the chorda tympani on the side of operation and the contralateral side before and after surgery. Each bar shows the threshold difference in patients with and without taste disturbance before and after surgery. Values are expressed as the means ± standard deviation. *p < 0.05 when comparing patients with and without postoperative taste disturbance.

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