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J Neurosurg. 2013 Aug;119(2):463-71. doi: 10.3171/2013.4.JNS122195. Epub 2013 May 24.

Gamma Knife surgery for large vestibular schwannomas: a single-center retrospective case-matched comparison assessing the effect of lesion size.

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  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.



Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) is a safe and effective treatment for patients with small to moderately sized vestibular schwannomas (VSs). Reports of stereotactic radiosurgery for large VSs have demonstrated worse tumor control and preservation of neurological function. The authors endeavored to assess the effect of size of VSs treated using GKS.


This study was a retrospective comparison of 24 patients with large VSs (> 3 cm in maximum diameter) treated with GKS compared with 49 small VSs (≤ 3 cm) matched for age, sex, radiosurgical margin and maximal doses, length of follow-up, and indication.


Actuarial tumor progression-free survival (PFS) for the large VS cohort was 95.2% and 81.8% at 3 and 5 years, respectively, compared with 97% and 90% for small VSs (p = 0.009). Overall clinical outcome was better in small VSs compared with large VSs (p < 0.001). Patients with small VSs presenting with House-Brackmann Grade I (good facial function) had better neurological outcomes compared with patients with large VSs (p = 0.003). Treatment failure occurred in 6 patients with large VSs; 3 each were treated with resection or repeat GKS. Treatment failure did not occur in the small VS group. Two patients in the large VS group required ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement. Univariate analysis did not identify any predictors of treatment failure among the large VS cohort.


Patients with large VSs treated using GKS had shorter PFS and worse clinical outcomes compared with age-, sex-, and indication-matched patients with small VSs. Nevertheless, GKS has efficacy for some patients with large VSs and represents a reasonable treatment option for selected patients.

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