Object. The frequency, nature, and history of subjective taste disturbance before and after vestibular schwannoma (VS) surgery was investigated.
Methods. Personal interviews were conducted in 108 patients with unilateral VS. Abnormalities in taste perception, either a significant reduction or a change in character, were experienced by 31 patients (28.7%) before surgery and by 37 (34.3%) after tumor removal. Preoperative taste disturbance worsened after surgery in five (16.1%) of the 31 patients, remained unchanged in eight (25.8%), improved in two (6.5%), and became normal in 16 (51.6%). Taste disturbance occurred postoperatively in 22 (28.6%) of 77 patients who had experienced no preoperative taste disturbance. The mean onset of the abnormality after resection was 1.1 ± 1.7 months. Postoperative taste disturbance resolved in 24 of the 37 patients (64.9%) within 1 year after onset.
Conclusions. Subjective taste disturbance was common before and after VS removal, and the natural history of this condition was very variable in the pre- and postoperative periods. All patients who undergo surgery for VS should receive appropriate counseling about the likelihood and course of postoperative complications, including dysfunction of the sensory component of the facial nerve.