Leksell Top 25 - Vestibular Schwannoma

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Brian R. Subach, Douglas Kondziolka, L. Dade Lunsford, David J. Bissonette, John C. Flickinger and Ann H. Maitz

Object. Stereotactically guided radiosurgery is one of the primary treatment modalities for patients with acoustic neuromas (vestibular schwannomas). The goal of radiosurgery is to arrest tumor growth while preserving neurological function. Patients with acoustic neuromas associated with neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2) represent a special challenge because of the risk of complete deafness. To define better the tumor control rate and long-term functional outcome, the authors reviewed their 10-year experience in treating these lesions.

Methods. Forty patients underwent stereotactic radiosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh, 35 of them for solitary tumors. The other five underwent staged procedures for bilateral lesions (10 tumors, 45 total). Thirteen patients (with 29% of tumors) had undergone a median of two prior resections. The mean tumor volume at radiosurgery was 4.8 ml, and the mean tumor margin dose was 15 Gy (range 12–20 Gy).

The overall tumor control rate was 98%. During the median follow-up period of 36 months, 16 tumors (36%) regressed, 28 (62%) remained unchanged, and one (2%) grew. In the 10 patients for whom more than 5 years of clinical and neuroimaging follow-up results were available (median 92 months), five tumors were smaller and five remained unchanged. Surgical resection was performed in three patients (7%) after radiosurgery; only one showed radiographic evidence of progression. Useful hearing (Gardner—Robertson Class I or II) was preserved in six (43%) of 14 patients, and this rate improved to 67% after modifications made in 1992. Normal facial nerve function (House—Brackmann Grade 1) was preserved in 25 (81%) of 31 patients. Normal trigeminal nerve function was preserved in 34 (94%) of 36 patients.

Conclusions. Stereotactically guided radiosurgery is a safe and effective treatment for patients with acoustic tumors in the setting of NF2. The rate of hearing preservation may be better with radiosurgery than with other available techniques.

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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.