Leksell Top 25 - Vestibular Schwannoma

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Bruce E. Pollock, Michael J. Link, and Robert L. Foote


The decline in cranial nerve morbidity after radiosurgery for vestibular schwannoma (VS) correlates with dose reduction and other technical changes to this procedure. The effect these changes have had on tumor control has not been well documented.


The authors performed a retrospective review of 293 patients with VSs who underwent radiosurgery between 1990 and 2004 and had a minimum of 24 months of imaging follow-up (90% of the entire series). The median radiation dose to the tumor margin was 13 Gy. Treatment failure was defined as progressive tumor enlargement noted on 2 or more imaging studies. The mean postradiosurgical follow-up was 60.9 ± 32.5 months.


Tumor growth was noted in 15 patients (5%) at a median of 32 months after radiosurgery. Radiographically demonstrated tumor control was 96% at 3 years and 94% at 7 years after radiosurgery. Univariate analysis revealed 2 factors that correlated with failed radiosurgery for VS: an increasing number of isocenters (p = 0.03) and tumor margin radiation doses ≤ 13 Gy (p = 0.02). Multivariate analysis showed that only an increasing number of isocenters correlated with failed VS radiosurgery (hazard ratio 1.1, 95% CI 1.02–1.32, p < 0.05). The tumor margin radiation dose (p = 0.22) was not associated with tumor growth after radiosurgery.


Distortion of stereotactic MR imaging coupled with increased radiosurgical conformality and progressive dose reduction likely caused some VSs to receive less than the prescribed radiation dose to the entire tumor volume.

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Vestibular schwannoma management

Part II. Failed radiosurgery and the role of delayed microsurgery

Bruce E. Pollock, L. Dade Lunsford, Douglas Kondziolka, Raymond Sekula, Brian R. Subach, Robert L. Foote, and John C. Flickinger

Object. The indications, operative findings, and outcomes of vestibular schwannoma microsurgery are controversial when it is performed after stereotactic radiosurgery. To address these issues, the authors reviewed the experience at two academic medical centers.

Methods. During a 10-year interval, 452 patients with unilateral vestibular schwannomas underwent gamma knife radiosurgery. Thirteen patients (2.9%) underwent delayed microsurgery at a median of 27 months (range 7–72 months) after they had undergone radiosurgery. Six of the 13 patients had undergone one or more microsurgical procedures before they underwent radiosurgery. The indications for surgery were tumor enlargement with stable symptoms in five patients, tumor enlargement with new or increased symptoms in five patients, and increased symptoms without evidence of tumor growth in three patients. Gross-total resection was achieved in seven patients and near-gross-total resection in four patients. The surgery was described as more difficult than that typically performed for schwannoma in eight patients, no different in four patients, and easier in one patient. At the last follow-up evaluation, three patients had normal or near-normal facial function, three patients had moderate facial dysfunction, and seven had facial palsies. Three patients were incapable of caring for themselves, and one patient died of progression of a malignant triton tumor.

Conclusions. Failed radiosurgery in cases of vestibular schwannoma was rare. No clear relationship was demonstrated between the use of radiosurgery and the subsequent ease or difficulty of delayed microsurgery. Because some patients have temporary enlargement of their tumor after radiosurgery, the need for surgical resection after radiosurgery should be reviewed with the neurosurgeon who performed the radiosurgery and should be delayed until sustained tumor growth is confirmed. A subtotal tumor resection should be considered for patients who require surgical resection of their tumor after vestibular schwannoma radiosurgery.