Sporadic unilateral vestibular schwannomas are rare in the pediatric population. Little has been reported in the literature on the presentation, tumor size, response to surgical treatment, and recurrence rates in these younger patients. The authors’ goal was to describe their institutional experience with pediatric sporadic vestibular schwannomas and to conduct a meta-analysis of the existing literature to provide further insight into the presentation, tumor characteristics, and surgical outcomes for these rare tumors to help direct future treatment strategies.
The authors performed a retrospective review of all patients 21 years of age or younger with unilateral vestibular schwannomas and without neurofibromatosis type 2 who underwent resection by the senior authors between 1997 and 2019. A systematic review of the literature and meta-analysis was also performed by entering the search terms “pediatric” and “vestibular schwannoma” or “acoustic neuroma,” as well as “sporadic” into PubMed. Presentation, treatment, clinical outcomes, and follow-up were analyzed.
Fifteen patients were identified at the authors’ institution, ranging in age from 12 to 21 years (mean 16.5 years). Common presenting symptoms included hearing loss (87%), headache (40%), vertigo (33%), ataxia (33%), and tinnitus (33%). At the time of surgery, the mean tumor size was 3.4 cm, with four 1-cm tumors. Four patients had residual tumor following their first surgery, 3 (75%) of whom had significant radiographic regrowth that required further treatment. The literature review identified an additional 81 patients from 26 studies with patient-specific clinical data available for analysis. This resulted in a total of 96 reported patients with an overall average age at diagnosis of 12.1 years (range 6–21 years) and an average tumor size of 4.1 cm.
Pediatric vestibular schwannomas present similarly to those in adults, although symptoms of mass effect are more common, as these tumors tend to be larger at diagnosis. Some children are found to have small tumors and can be successfully treated surgically. Residual tumors in pediatric patients were found to have a higher rate of regrowth than those in their adult counterparts.