✓ Brain-stem auditory evoked potentials (BAEP's) and blink reflexes (BR's) were recorded from 40 patients with clinical and radiological evidence of posterior fossa tumors. They were examined in three groups according to the anatomical location of the lesion: Group A included 15 patients with midline tumors; Group B included 14 patients with cerebellar hemispheric tumors; and Group C included 11 patients with cerebellopontine angle (CPA) tumors. More of the 40 patients had BAEP abnormalities (32) than BR abnormalities (24). All of the 11 patients with CPA tumors had some kind of BAEP and BR abnormalities. The 14 patients with cerebellar tumors showed the next most frequent abnormalities: 12 related to the BAEP's and seven to the BR's. The 15 patients with midline tumors showed the least number of abnormalities: nine related to BAEP's and six to the BR's.
In the analysis of BAEP wave latencies and interpeak latencies, a wave III latency delay occurred in all groups; latencies of waves IV and V were more significantly delayed in patients with CPA and cerebellar hemispheric tumors, and the interpeak latencies of waves III–V and I–V were markedly prolonged only in patients with CPA tumors (p < 0.01).
In all tumor groups, early response (R1) of BR's was significantly delayed in comparison to a healthy volunteer control group (p < 0.01), but R1 was more pronounced in cases of CPA tumors when compared with the other tumor groups. Although significant delays in direct and consensual late reflex components (R2) of BR's were noted in comparison to the control group, this delay could not differentiate one tumor group from another.
It can be concluded that, while these tests reflect the functions of different cranial nerves and brain-stem tracts, BAEP monitoring is more sensitive than BR testing for the detection of brain-stem involvement in posterior fossa tumors. Cerebellopontine angle tumors almost always cause severe abnormalities in both tests. Cerebellar hemispheric tumors and midline tumors cause fewer changes in both BAEP's and BR's.