In the era of MRI, vestibular schwannomas are often recognized when patients still have excellent hearing. Besides success in tumor control rate, hearing preservation is a main goal in any procedure for management of this population. The authors evaluated whether modified auditory subclassification prior to radiosurgery could predict long-term hearing outcome in this population.
The authors reviewed a quality assessment registry that included the records of 1134 vestibular schwannoma patients who had undergone stereotactic radiosurgery during a 15-year period (1997–2011). The authors identified 166 patients who had Gardner-Robertson Class I hearing prior to stereotactic radiosurgery. Fifty-three patients were classified as having Class I-A (no subjective hearing loss) and 113 patients as Class I-B (subjective hearing loss). Class I-B patients were further stratified into Class I-B1 (pure tone average ≤ 10 dB in comparison with the contralateral ear; 56 patients), and I-B2 (> 10 dB compared with the normal ear; 57 patients). At a median follow-up of 65 months, the authors evaluated patients' hearing outcomes and tumor control.
The median pure tone average elevations after stereotactic radiosurgery were 5 dB, 13.5 dB, and 28 dB in Classes I-A, I-B1, and I-B2, respectively. The median declines in speech discrimination scores after stereotactic radiosurgery were 0% for Class I-A (p = 0.33), 8% for Class I-B1 (p < 0.0001), and 40% for Class I-B2 (p < 0.0001). Serviceable hearing preservation rates were 98%, 73%, and 33% for Classes I-A, I-B1, and I-B2, respectively. Gardner-Robertson Class I hearing was preserved in 87%, 43%, and 5% of patients in Classes I-A, I-B1, and I-B2, respectively.
Long-term hearing preservation was significantly better if radiosurgery was performed prior to subjective hearing loss. In patients with subjective hearing loss, the difference in pure tone average between the affected ear and the unaffected ear was an important factor in long-term hearing preservation.