While extensive long-term outcome studies support the role of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) for smaller-volume vestibular schwannomas (VSs), its role in the management for larger-volume tumors remains controversial.
Between 1987 and 2017, the authors performed single-session SRS on 170 patients with previously untreated Koos grade IV VSs (volumes ranged from 5 to 20 cm3). The median tumor volume was 7.4 cm3. The median maximum extracanalicular tumor diameter was 27.5 mm. All tumors compressed the middle cerebellar peduncle and distorted the fourth ventricle. Ninety-three patients were male, 77 were female, and the median age was 61 years. Sixty-two patients had serviceable hearing (Gardner-Robertson [GR] grades I and II). The median margin dose was 12.5 Gy.
At a median follow-up of 5.1 years, the progression-free survival rates of VSs treated with a margin dose ≥ 12.0 Gy were 98.4% at 3 years, 95.3% at 5 years, and 90.7% at 10 years. In contrast, the tumor control rate after delivery of a margin dose < 12.0 Gy was 76.9% at 3, 5, and 10 years. The hearing preservation rates in patients with serviceable hearing at the time of SRS were 58.1% at 3 years, 50.3% at 5 years, and 35.9% at 7 years. Younger age (< 60 years, p = 0.036) and initial GR grade I (p = 0.006) were associated with improved serviceable hearing preservation rate. Seven patients (4%) developed facial neuropathy during the follow-up interval. A smaller tumor volume (< 10 cm3, p = 0.002) and a lower margin dose (≤ 13.0 Gy, p < 0.001) were associated with preservation of facial nerve function. The probability of delayed facial neuropathy when the margin dose was ≤ 13.0 Gy was 1.1% at 10 years. Nine patients (5%) required a ventriculoperitoneal shunt because of delayed symptomatic hydrocephalus. Fifteen patients (9%) developed detectable trigeminal neuropathy. Delayed resection was performed in 4% of patients.
Even for larger-volume VSs, single-session SRS prevented the need for delayed resection in almost 90% at 10 years. For patients with minimal symptoms of tumor mass effect, SRS should be considered an effective alternative to surgery in most patients, especially those with advanced age or medical comorbidities.