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Christian Strauss, Julian Prell, Stefan Rampp and Johann Romstöck

Object

The facial nerve in vestibular schwannomas (VSs) is located on the ventral tumor surface in more than 90% of cases; other courses are rare. A split facial nerve course with two distinct bundles has thus far been described exclusively for medial extrameatal tumors.

Methods

Between 1996 and 2005, 16 consecutive cases of 241 surgically treated VSs were observed to have distinct splitting of the facial nerve. The mean tumor size measured 27 mm. In one third of the cases, intrameatal tumor extension with obliteration of the fundus was documented. All patients underwent extensive intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring using multichannel electromyography recordings. Patients were reevaluated 12 months after surgery.

In all 16 patients, distinct splitting of the facial nerve was demonstrated. The major portion of the facial nerve followed a typical course on the ventral tumor surface. The smaller nerve portion in all cases ran parallel to the brainstem up to the level of the trigeminal root exit zone and crossed on the cranial tumor pole to the internal auditory canal. The two nerve portions rejoined at the level of the porus acusticus. The smaller portion carried fibers exclusively to the orbicularis oris muscle, whereas the major portion supplied all three branches of the facial nerve.

Conclusions

In VSs, an aberrant course with distinct splitting of the facial nerve adds considerably to the surgical challenge. Long-term facial nerve results are excellent with extensive neurophysiological monitoring, which allows the differentiation and identification of aberrant facial nerve fibers and avoids additional risks to facial nerve preservation.

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Jens Rachinger, Stefan Rampp, Julian Prell, Christian Scheller, Alex Alfieri and Christian Strauss

Object

Preservation of cochlear nerve function in vestibular schwannoma (VS) removal is usually dependent on tumor size and preoperative hearing status. Tumor origin as an independent factor has not been systematically investigated.

Methods

A series of 90 patients with VSs, who underwent surgery via a suboccipitolateral route, was evaluated with respect to cochlear nerve function, tumor size, radiological findings, and intraoperatively confirmed tumor origin. All patients were reevaluated 12 months after surgery.

Results

Despite comparable preoperative cochlear nerve status and larger tumor sizes, hearing preservation was achieved in 42% of patients with tumor originating from the superior vestibular nerve, compared with 16% of those with tumor originating from the inferior vestibular nerve.

Conclusions

Tumor origin is an important prognostic factor for cochlear nerve preservation in VS surgery.

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Julian Prell, Stefan Rampp, Johann Romstöck, Rudolf Fahlbusch and Christian Strauss

Object

The authors describe a quantitative electromyographic (EMG) parameter for intraoperative monitoring of facial nerve function during vestibular schwannoma removal. This parameter is based on the automated detection of A trains, an EMG pattern that is known to be associated with postoperative facial nerve paresis.

Methods

For this study, 40 patients were examined. During the entire operative procedure, free-running EMG signals were recorded in muscles targeted by the facial nerve. A software program specifically designed for this purpose was used to analyze these continuous recordings offline. By automatically adding up time intervals during which A trains occurred, a quantitative parameter was calculated, which was named “train time.”

A strong correlation between the length of train time (measured in seconds) and deterioration of postoperative facial nerve function was demonstrated. Certain consecutive safety thresholds at 0.5 and 10 seconds were defined. Their transgression reliably indicated postoperative facial nerve paresis. At less than a 10-second train time, discrete worsening, and at more than 10 seconds, profound deterioration of facial nerve function can be anticipated.

Conclusions

Train time as a quantitative parameter was shown to be a reliable indicator of facial nerve paresis after surgery for vestibular schwannoma.

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Stefan Rampp, Leonhard Rensch, Sebastian Simmermacher, Torsten Rahne, Christian Strauss and Julian Prell

OBJECTIVE

Brainstem auditory evoked potentials (BAEPs) have been used for intraoperative monitoring of the auditory nerve for many years. However, BAEPs yield limited information about the expected postoperative hearing quality and speech perception. The auditory steady-state response (ASSR) enables objective audiograms to be obtained in patients under anesthesia. These ASSRs could be used for intraoperative estimation of hearing classes to improve the postoperative outcome and quality of life. Studies investigating the clinical use of ASSRs during total intravenous anesthesia are currently lacking. The work presented in this article therefore investigates the application of ASSRs for intraoperative estimation of hearing classes.

METHODS

In 43 patients undergoing surgery for vestibular schwannoma, ASSR measurements were performed at the beginning and end of the surgical procedure. ASSR stimuli consisted of 80-dB hearing level amplitude-modulated tones with 5-minute duration, 90-Hz modulation, and 3 different carrier frequencies: 500, 1000, and 2000 Hz. Stimulation was performed unilaterally with and without contralateral masking, using single and combined carriers. Evoked responses were recorded and analyzed in the frequency domain. ASSRs were compared with extraoperative hearing classes and BAEPs using ANOVA, correlation, and receiver operating characteristic statistics.

RESULTS

ASSRs yielded high and consistent area under the curve (AUC) values (mean 0.83) and correlation values (mean −0.63), indicating reliable prediction of hearing classes. Analysis of BAEP amplitude changes showed lower AUC (mean 0.79) and correlation values (0.63, 0.37, and 0.50 for Waves I, III, and V, respectively). Latencies showed low AUC values (mean 0.6) and no significant correlation. Combination of several carriers for simultaneous evaluation reduced ASSR amplitudes and respective AUC values. Contralateral masking did not show a significant effect.

CONCLUSIONS

ASSRs robustly estimate hearing class in patients under total intravenous anesthesia, even when using short measurement durations. The method provides a diagnostic performance that exceeds conventional BAEP monitoring and enables objective and automated evaluation. On the basis of these findings, continuous intraoperative auditory monitoring could become a promising alternative or adjunct to BAEPs.

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Stefan Rampp, Christian Scheller, Julian Prell, Tobias Engelhorn, Christian Strauss and Jens Rachinger

Object

Efficacy of radiosurgery in vestibular schwannoma (VS) is usually documented by changes of tumor size and by loss of contrast enhancement in MR imaging within the central portion of the lesion. Until now, however, correlation between contrast enhancement and timing of image acquisition in nontreated VS has not been analyzed systematically. The authors undertook this study to investigate changes in contrast enhancement with respect to latency of image acquisition after contrast agent administration.

Methods

The dynamics of contrast medium uptake were evaluated with T1-weighted VIBE MR imaging sequences performed immediately and 1.5, 3.5, 4.5, 9.5, and 11.5 minutes after administration of single dose of Gd in 21 patients with nontreated medium- to large-sized VSs. Signal-to-noise (SNR) and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) of tumors were evaluated, and volumes of central nonenhancing areas (NEAs) were determined.

Results

The interior appearance of the tumors changed considerably over time. The NEA significantly diminished in size (p < 0.0001, Friedman test) and almost completely disappeared in all but 2 patients. Compared to images at 1.5 minutes, NEA volumes decreased to a median of 36% at 3.5 minutes and 34% at 4.5 minutes, showing smaller changes after that—9% at 9.5 minutes and 3% at 11.5 minutes. Tumor SNR and CNR increased over time. The maximum change in the median values for SNR and CNR were a 72% increase and 117% increase, respectively; both occurred at 1.5 minutes after Gd administration.

Conclusions

Contrast enhancement in VS MR imaging varies according to the duration of the delay between contrast agent administration and image acquisition. Postradiotherapy changes in contrast enhancement of VS can therefore not be attributed only to effective radiotherapy. So-called “loss of central contrast enhancement” may be falsely detected because of timing. A standardized protocol with defined timing of image acquisition may increase comparability of contrast uptake in VS.

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Julian Prell, Stefan Rampp, Jens Rachinger, Christian Scheller, Alex Alfieri, Liane Marquardt, Christian Strauss and Viktoria Bau

Object

High-grade postoperative facial nerve paresis after surgery for vestibular schwannoma with insufficient eye closure involves a risk for severe ocular complications. When conservative measurements are not sufficient, conventional invasive treatments include tarsorrhaphy and eyelid loading. In this study, injection of botulinum toxin into the levator palpebrae muscle was investigated as an alternative for temporary iatrogenic eye closure.

Methods

Injection of botulinum toxin was indicated by an interdisciplinary decision (neurosurgery and ophthalmology) in patients with a postoperative facial nerve paresis corresponding to a House-Brackmann Grade of IV or greater and documented abnormalities concerning corneal status such as keratopathia or conjunctival redness. Twenty-five IUs of botulinum toxin were injected transcutaneously and transconjunctivally.

Results

Six of 11 patients with high-grade paresis showed abnormal corneal findings in the early postoperative period. In 4 of these patients, botulinum toxin was injected; 1 patient declined the treatment, and in 1 patient it was not performed because of contralateral blindness. Temporary eye closure was achieved for 2 to 6 months in all cases. In all cases, facial nerve function had recovered sufficiently in terms of eye closure when the effect of botulinum toxin subsided.

Conclusion

The application of botulinum toxin for temporary iatrogenic eye closure is an excellent low-risk and temporary alternative to other invasive measures for the treatment of postoperative high-grade facial nerve paresis when the facial nerve is anatomically intact.

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Christian Strauss, Barbara Bischoff, Johann Romstöck, Jens Rachinger, Stefan Rampp and Julian Prell

Object

Vestibular schwannomas (VSs) with no or little extension into the internal auditory canal have been addressed as a clinical subentity carrying a poor prognosis regarding hearing preservation, which is attributed to the initially asymptomatic intracisternal growth pattern. The goal in this study was to assess hearing preservation in patients who underwent surgery for medial VSs.

Methods

A consecutive series of 31 cases in 30 patients with medial VSs (mean size 31 mm) who underwent surgery between 1997 and 2005 via a suboccipitolateral route was evaluated with respect to pre- and postoperative cochlear nerve function, extent of tumor removal, and radiological findings. Intraoperative monitoring of brainstem auditory evoked potentials was performed in all patients with hearing. Patients were reevaluated at a mean of 30 months following surgery.

Results

Preoperative hearing function revealed American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation Classes A and B in 7 patients each, Class C in 4, and D in 9. Four patients presented with deafness. Hearing preservation was achieved in 10 patients (Classes A–C in 2 patients each, and Class D in 4 patients). Tumor removal was complete in all patients with hearing preservation, except for 2 patients with neurofibromatosis. In 4 patients a planned subtotal excision was performed due to the individual's age or underlying disease. In 1 patient a recurrent tumor was completely removed 3 years after the initial procedure.

Conclusions

The cochlear nerve in medial VSs requires special attention due to the atypical intracisternal growth pattern. Even in large tumors, hearing could be preserved in 37% of cases, since the cochlear nerve in medial schwannomas may not exhibit the adherence to the tumor capsule seen in tumors with comparable size involving the internal auditory canal.

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Julian Prell, Grit Schenk, Bettina-Maria Taute, Christian Scheller, Christian Marquart, Christian Strauss and Stefan Rampp

OBJECTIVE

The term “venous thromboembolism” (VTE) subsumes deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism. The incidence of DVT after craniotomy was reported to be as high as 50%. Even clinically silent DVT may lead to potentially fatal pulmonary embolism. The risk of VTE is correlated with duration of surgery, and it appears likely that it develops during surgery. The present study aimed to evaluate intraoperative use of intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) of the lower extremity for prevention of VTE in patients undergoing craniotomy.

METHODS

A total of 108 patients undergoing elective craniotomy for intracranial pathology were included in a single-center controlled randomized prospective study. In the control group, conventional compression stockings were worn during surgery. In the treatment group, IPC of the calves was used in addition. The presence of DVT was evaluated by Doppler sonography pre- and postoperatively.

RESULTS

Intraoperative use of IPC led to a significant reduction of VTE (p = 0.029). In logistic regression analysis, the risk of VTE was approximately quartered by the use of IPC. Duration of surgery was confirmed to be correlated with VTE incidence (p < 0.01); every hour of surgery increased the risk by a factor of 1.56.

CONCLUSIONS

Intraoperative use of IPC significantly lowers the incidence of potentially fatal VTE in patients undergoing craniotomy. The method is easy to use and carries no additional risks.

■ CLASSIFICATION OF EVIDENCE Type of question: therapeutic; study design: randomized controlled trial; evidence: class I.

Clinical trial registration no.: DRKS00011783 (https://www.drks.de)

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Julian Prell, Jens Rachinger, Robert Smaczny, Bettina-Maria Taute, Stefan Rampp, Joerg Illert, Gershom Koman, Christian Marquart, Alexandra Rachinger, Sebastian Simmermacher, Alex Alfieri, Christian Scheller and Christian Strauss

Object

The incidence of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) after craniotomy is reported to be as high as 50%. In outpatients, D-dimer levels of more than 0.5 mg/L indicate venous thromboembolism (VTE, which subsumes DVT and pulmonary embolism [PE]) with a sensitivity of 99.4% and a specificity of 38.2%. However, D-dimer levels are believed to be unreliable in postoperative patients. The authors undertook the present study to test the hypothesis that D-dimer levels would be systematically raised in a postoperative population and to define a feasible threshold for identification of VTE.

Methods

Doppler ultrasonography of the lower extremity was performed pre- and postoperatively to evaluate for DVT in 101 patients who underwent elective craniotomy. D-dimer levels were assessed preoperatively and on the 3rd, 7th, and 10th days after surgery. Statistical analysis was carried out to define a feasible threshold for D-dimer levels.

Results

D-dimer plasma levels were found to be systematically raised postoperatively, and they differed between patients with and without VTE in a highly significant way. On the 3rd day after surgery, D-dimer levels of more than 2 mg/L indicated VTE with a sensitivity of 95.3% and a specificity of 74.1%, allowing for the definition of a feasible threshold. D-dimer levels of more than 4 mg/L were observed in all patients who had PE during the postoperative period (n = 9). Ventilation time and duration of surgery were identified as highly significant risk factors for the development of VTE.

Conclusions

Using a threshold of 2 mg/L, D-dimer levels will indicate VTE with a high degree of sensitivity and specificity in patients who have undergone craniotomy. Pulmonary embolism seems to be indicated by even higher D-dimer levels. Given that the development of D-dimer plasma levels in the postoperative period follows a principle that can be predicted and that deviations from it indicate VTE, this principle might be applicable to other types of surgery.

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Christian Scheller, Stefan Rampp, Marcos Tatagiba, Alireza Gharabaghi, Kristofer F. Ramina, Oliver Ganslandt, Barbara Bischoff, Cordula Matthies, Thomas Westermaier, Maria Teresa Pedro, Veit Rohde, Kajetan von Eckardstein and Christian Strauss

OBJECTIVE

Patient positioning in vestibular schwannoma (VS) surgery is a matter of ongoing discussion. Factors to consider include preservation of cranial nerve functions, extent of tumor resection, and complications. The objective of this study was to determine the optimal patient positioning in VS surgery.

METHODS

A subgroup analysis of a randomized, multicenter trial that investigated the efficacy of prophylactic nimodipine in VS surgery was performed to investigate the impact of positioning (semisitting or supine) on extent of resection, functional outcomes, and complications. The data of 97 patients were collected prospectively. All procedures were performed via a retrosigmoid approach. The semisitting position was chosen in 56 patients, whereas 41 patients were treated while supine.

RESULTS

Complete resection was obtained at a higher percentage in the semisitting as compared to the supine position (93% vs 73%, p = 0.002). Logistic regression analysis revealed significantly better facial nerve function in the early postoperative course in the semisitting group (p = 0.004), particularly concerning severe facial nerve paresis (House-Brackmann grade IV or worse; p = 0.002). One year after surgery, facial nerve function recovered. However, there was still a tendency for better facial nerve function in the semisitting group (p = 0.091). There were no significant differences between groups regarding hearing preservation rates. Venous air embolism with the necessity to terminate surgery occurred in 2 patients in the semisitting position (3.6%). Supplementary analysis with a 2-tailed permutation randomization with 10,000 permutations of treatment choice and a propensity score matching showed either a tendency or significant results for better facial nerve outcomes in the early postoperative course and extent of resection in the semisitting group.

CONCLUSIONS

Although the results of the various statistical analyses are not uniform, the data indicate better results concerning both a higher rate of complete removal (according to the intraoperative impression of the surgeon) and facial nerve function after a semisitting as compared to the supine position. These advantages may justify the potential higher risk for severe complications of the semisitting position in VS surgery. The choice of positioning has to consider all individual patient parameters and risks carefully.