Widespread use of MR imaging has contributed to the more frequent diagnosis of vestibular schwannomas (VSs). These tumors represent 10% of primary adult intracranial neoplasms, and if they are symptomatic, they usually present with hearing loss and tinnitus. Currently, there are 3 treatment options for quality of life (QOL): wait and scan, microsurgery, and radiosurgery. In this paper, the authors' purpose is to determine which treatment modality yields the highest QOL at 5- and 10-year follow-up, considering the likelihood of recurrence and various complications.
The MEDLINE, Embase, and Cochrane online databases were searched for English-language articles published between 1990 and June 2008, containing key words relating to VS. Data were pooled to calculate the prevalence of treatment complications, tumor recurrence, and QOL with various complications. For parameters in which incidence varied with time of follow-up, the authors used meta-regression to determine the mean prevalence rates at a specified length of follow-up. A decision-analytical model was constructed to compare 5- and 10-year outcomes for a patient with a unilateral tumor and partially intact hearing. The 3 treatment options, wait and scan, microsurgery, and radiosurgery, were compared.
After screening more than 2500 abstracts, the authors ultimately included 113 articles in this analysis. Recurrence, complication rates, and onset of complication varied with the treatment chosen. The relative QOL at the 5-year follow-up was 0.898 of normal for wait and scan, 0.953 for microsurgery, and 0.97 for radiosurgery. These differences are significant (p < 0.0052). Data were too scarce at the 10-year follow-up to calculate significant differences between the microsurgery and radiosurgery strategies.
At 5 years, patients treated with radiosurgery have an overall better QOL than those treated with either microsurgery or those investigated further with serial imaging. The authors found that the complications associated with wait-and-scan and microsurgery treatment strategies negatively impacted patient lives more than the complications from radiosurgery. One limitation of this study is that the 10-year follow-up data were too limited to analyze, and more studies are needed to determine if the authors' results are still consistent at 10 years.