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J Neurosurg. 1998 May;88(5):840-5.

Hearing preservation in patients undergoing vestibular schwannoma surgery: comparison of middle fossa and retrosigmoid approaches.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, University of California at San Francisco, 94117, USA.



The goal of this retrospective study was to evaluate hearing preservation after surgery for vestibular schwannoma in which the middle fossa (MF) or retrosigmoid (RS) approaches were used. Hearing preservation in vestibular schwannoma surgery can be achieved by using either the MR or RS approach. Comparative outcome data between these approaches are lacking, and, as a result, selection has generally been determined by the surgeon's preference.


The authors have compared removal of small vestibular schwannomas via MF and RS approaches with regard to hearing preservation and facial nerve function. The study group was composed of consecutively treated patients with vestibular schwannoma, 48 of whom underwent operation via an MF approach and 50 of whom underwent the same number of RS operations. Tumors were divided into size-matched groups. Hearing results were recorded according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery criteria, and facial nerve outcome was recorded as the House-Brackmann grade. Overall, 26 (52%) of the patients treated via the MF approach achieved a Class B or better hearing result compared with seven (14%) of the RS group. Some hearing was preserved in 32 (64%) of the patients in the MF group and in 17 (34%) of the RS group. The results obtained by using the MF approach were superior for intracanalicular tumors (p=0.009, t-test), and for tumors with a cerebellopontine angle (CPA) component measuring 0.1 to 1 cm (p=0.006, t-test). For tumors in the CPA that were 1.1 to 2 cm in size, our data were inconclusive because of the small sample size. Facial weakness was seen more frequently after MF surgery in the early postoperative period, but results were equal at 1 year.


The results of this study have demonstrated a more favorable hearing outcome for patients with intracanalicular tumors and tumors extending up to 1 cm into the CPA that were removed via the MF when compared with the RS approach.

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