The middle fossa approach is an effective option for the treatment of small (Koos grade I and II) vestibular schwannomas (VSs) when the goal is hearing preservation. The authors evaluated the rates of hearing preservation and examined the factors associated with improved hearing outcomes after the middle fossa approach for VSs.
In this retrospective, single-center cohort study evaluating the clinical outcomes after resection of small VSs using the middle fossa approach, consecutive adult patients (> 18 years) who underwent surgery between January 2000 and December 2021 were included. Clinical and imaging characteristics were analyzed, including baseline hearing status, duration of surgery, anesthetic parameters, and imaging characteristics of the surgically treated tumors.
Among the 131 included patients, 102 had valid and discoverable pre- and postoperative audiology assessments. The mean follow-up was 26 months (range 1–180 months). There were 85 patients with serviceable hearing preoperatively, defined as American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) class A or B, of whom 78% retained class A or B hearing at the last follow-up. Binary logistic regression demonstrated that preoperative hearing AAO-HNS class (OR 0.19, 95% CI 0.05–0.77; p = 0.02), overlap between fundus and cochlea (OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.11–0.96; p = 0.04), and duration of anesthesia (OR 0.98, 95% CI 0.97–0.99; p = 0.03) were independent predictors of hearing outcomes. Additionally, 75% of patients with high diffusion-weighted imaging signal in the tumor (p = 0.009) and 67% of patients with the tumor originating at the modiolus of the cochlea (p = 0.004) had poor hearing outcomes.
The hearing preservation rates after microsurgical resection of small VSs using the middle fossa approach are high, with 78% of patients maintaining AAO-HNS class A or B hearing. Poor hearing status at baseline, longer duration of anesthesia, and large overlap between the fundus of the internal auditory canal and the cochlea were independently associated with unfavorable hearing outcomes. Imaging characteristics can be used to stratify patients’ risk of hearing loss.