Vestibular schwannomas (VSs) are rare in the pediatric population. Most often, these lesions manifest as a bilateral disease process in the setting of neurofibromatosis Type 2. Even in the absence of additional clinical diagnostic criteria, the presentation of a unilateral VS in a young patient may be a harbinger of future penetrance for this hereditary tumor syndrome.
The authors retrospectively reviewed the charts of a cohort of 7 patients who presented with apparently sporadic, unilateral VSs. These patients had previously undergone surgery via translabyrinthine, retrosigmoid, or combined approaches. Clinical outcomes were reviewed with emphasis on facial nerve function and follow-up for signs and symptoms of a heritable disorder.
All patients underwent microsurgical resection in a multidisciplinary effort by the senior authors. The average tumor size was 4.57 cm, with an average duration of symptoms prior to definitive diagnosis of 31.2 months. The tumor size at the time of presentation followed a trend different from reports in adults, while the duration of symptoms did not. At a follow-up average of 6.3 years (range 1–12 years), 100% of patients demonstrated good facial function (House-Brackmann Grade I or II). No patient in this cohort demonstrated symptoms, objective signs, or genetic analysis indicating the presence of neurofibromatosis Type 2.
Diagnosis and management of sporadic, unilateral VSs in children is complicated by clinical presentations and surgical challenges unique from their adult counterparts. Careful consideration should be given to a heritable genetic basis for sporadic unilateral VS in the pediatric population. Results of genetic testing do not preclude the necessity for long-term follow-up and systemic investigation. In patients who present with large tumors, preliminary experience leads the authors to suggest that a combined retrosigmoid-translabyrinthine approach offers the greatest opportunity for preservation of facial nerve function.