Neurotopographic considerations in the microsurgical treatment of small acoustic neurinomas

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  • 1 Department of Neurosurgery, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria; Department of Neurosurgery, Lahey Hitchcock Medical Center, Burlington, Massachusetts; and Department of Neurosurgery, Southern California Medical Group, San Diego, California
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Object. The authors studied the relationships between tumor size, location, and topographic position relative to the intact facial nerve bundles in acoustic neurinomas to determine the influence of these factors on hearing preservation postoperatively. Consistent topographic relationships were found.

Methods. Four hundred fifty-two patients with acoustic neurinoma treated via a retrosigmoid approach were analyzed with respect to hearing preservation and facial nerve function. One hundred fifteen tumors were identified as small and were categorized as Grades I and II. Patients with Grade I tumors, that is, purely intracanalicular lesions, all had good hearing preoperatively, defined by a less than 50-dB pure tone average and 50% speech discrimination score. All 14 Grade I tumors were removed, resulting in preservation of the patient's hearing by these criteria. There were no particular topographic anatomical relationships associated with these tumors that affected hearing preservation. Grade II tumors, defined as those protruding into the cerebellopontine angle without contacting the brainstem, were found in 101 patients and were divided by size into two grades: IIA (< 1 cm) and IIB (1–1.8 cm). In 90 patients with Grade IIA tumors, 72 (89%) of 81 who had preserved hearing preoperatively maintained it postoperatively, and in the 11 patients with Grade IIB tumors, six of whom had good hearing preoperatively, four (67%) had preserved hearing postoperatively. Six morphological types were identified based on their neurotopographic relationships to the elements of the vestibulocochlear nerve.

Conclusions. Hearing preservation postsurgery by tumor type was as follows: 1A, 92%; 1B, 88%; 1C, 100%; 2A, 83%; 2B, 92%; and 3, 57%. Combined, this represents a hearing preservation rate of 87% after surgical treatment of Grade II acoustic neurinomas. Full nerve function was maintained in 88% of patients with anatomically preserved facial nerves in both Grade I and II tumors. The remaining 12% of patients retained partial function of the facial nerve. Two patients in the series lost anatomical integrity of the nerve due to surgery.

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Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: Wolfgang T. Koos, M.D., Department of Neurosurgery, Allgemeines Krankenhaus der Stadt Wien, Waehringer Gürtel 18–20, A—1090 Vienna, Austria.
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