Cranial nerve (CN) schwannomas are intracranial tumors that are commonly managed by stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). There is a large body of literature supporting the use of SRS for vestibular schwannomas. Schwannomas of the oculomotor nerves (CNs III, IV, and VI) are rare skull base tumors, occurring close to the brainstem and often involving the cavernous sinus. Resection can cause significant morbidity, including loss of nerve function. As for other schwannomas, SRS can be used to manage these tumors, but only a handful of cases have been published so far, often among reports of other uncommon schwannoma locations.
The goal of this study was to collect retrospective multicenter data on tumor control, clinical evolution, and morbidity after SRS. This study was performed through the International Radiosurgery Research Foundation. Patients managed with single-session SRS for an oculomotor cranial nerve schwannoma (CN III, IV, or VI) were included. The diagnosis was based on diplopia or ptosis as the main presenting symptom and anatomical location on the trajectory of the presumed cranial nerve of origin, or prior resection confirming diagnosis. Demographic, SRS dose planning, clinical, and imaging data were collected from chart review of the treated patients. Chi-square and Kaplan-Meier analyses were performed.
Seven institutions submitted data for a total of 25 patients. The median follow-up time was 41 months. The median age at the time of treatment was 52 years. There were 11 CN III schwannomas, 11 CN IV schwannomas, and 3 CN VI schwannomas. The median target volume was 0.74 cm3, and the median marginal dose delivered was 12.5 Gy. After SRS, only 2 patients (including the only patient with neurofibromatosis type 2) had continued tumor growth. Crude local control was 92% (23/25), and the 10-year actuarial control was 86%. Diplopia improved in the majority of patients (11/21), and only 3 had worsening following SRS, 2 of whom also had worsened ptosis, both in the context of tumor progression.
SRS for schwannomas of the oculomotor, trochlear, and abducens nerves is effective and provides tumor control rates similar to those for other cranial nerve schwannomas. SRS allows improvement of diplopia in the majority of patients. SRS should therefore be considered as a first-line treatment option for oculomotor nerve schwannomas.