In this study, the authors aimed to clarify the relationship between hearing loss and tumor volumetric growth rates in patients with untreated vestibular schwannoma (VS).
Records of 128 treatment-naive patients diagnosed with unilateral VS between 2012 and 2018 with serial audiometric assessment and MRI were reviewed. Tumor growth rates were determined from initial and final tumor volumes, with a median follow-up of 24.3 months (IQR 8.5–48.8 months). Hearing changes were based on pure tone averages, speech discrimination scores, and American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery hearing class. Primary outcomes were the loss of class A hearing and loss of serviceable hearing, estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method and with associations estimated from Cox proportional hazards models and reported as hazard ratios.
Larger initial tumor size was associated with an increased risk of losing class A (HR 1.5 for a 1-cm3 increase; p = 0.047) and serviceable (HR 1.3; p < 0.001) hearing. Additionally, increasing volumetric tumor growth rate was associated with elevated risk of loss of class A hearing (HR 1.2 for increase of 100% per year; p = 0.031) and serviceable hearing (HR 1.2; p = 0.014). Hazard ratios increased linearly with increasing growth rates, without any evident threshold growth rate that resulted in a large, sudden increased risk of hearing loss.
Larger initial tumor size and faster tumor growth rates were associated with an elevated risk of loss of class A and serviceable hearing.