The authors describe the usefulness and limitations of the cochlear nerve compound action potential (CNAP) mobile tracer (MCT) that they developed to aid in cochlear nerve mapping during vestibular schwannoma surgery (VSS) for hearing preservation.
This MCT device requires no more than 2 seconds for stable placement on the nerve to obtain the CNAP and thus is able to trace the cochlear nerve instantaneously. Simultaneous bipolar and monopolar recording is possible. The authors present the outcomes of 18 consecutive patients who underwent preoperative useful hearing (defined as class I or II of the Gardner-Robertson classification system) and underwent hearing-preservation VSS with the use of the MCT. Mapping was considered successful when it was possible to detect and trace the cochlear nerve.
Mapping of the cochlear nerve was successful in 13 of 18 patients (72.2%), and useful hearing was preserved in 11 patients (61.1%). Among 8 patients with large tumors (Koos grade 3 or 4), the rate of successful mapping was 62.5% (5 patients). The rate of hearing preservation in patients with large tumors was 50% (4 patients).
In addition to microsurgical presumption of the arrangement of each nerve, frequent probing on and around an unidentified nerve and comparison of each waveform are advisable with the use of both more sensitive monopolar and more location-specific bipolar MCT. MCT proved to be useful in cochlear nerve mapping and may consequently be helpful in hearing preservation. The authors discuss some limitations and problems with this device.