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J Neurosurg. 2002 May;96(5):872-6.

Correlation between auditory function and internal auditory canal pressure in patients with vestibular schwannomas.

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  • 1Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, Madison 53792, USA.



Hearing loss is the most common presenting symptom in patients who harbor a vestibular schwannoma (VS). Although mechanical injury to the cochlear nerve and vascular compromise of the auditory apparatus have been proposed, the exact mechanism of this hearing loss remains unclear. To test whether pressure on the cochlear nerve from tumor growth in the internal auditory canal (IAC) is responsible for this clinical finding, the authors prospectively evaluated intracanalicular pressure (ICaP) in patients with VS and correlated this with preoperative brainstem response.


In 40 consecutive patients undergoing a retrosigmoid-transmeatal approach for tumor excision, ICaP was measured by inserting a pressure microsensor into the IAC before any tumor manipulation. Pressure recordings were correlated with tumor size and preoperative auditory evoked potential (AEP) recordings. The ICaP, which varied widely among patients (range 0-45 mm Hg), was significantly elevated in most patients (median 16 mm Hg). Although these pressure measurements directly correlated to the extension of tumor into the IAC (p = 0.001), they did not correlate to total tumor size (p = 0.2). In 20 patients in whom baseline AEP recordings were available, the ICaP directly correlated to wave V latency (p = 0.0001), suggesting that pressure from tumor growth in the IAC may be responsible for hearing loss in these patients.


Tumor growth into the IAC results in elevation of ICaP and may play a role in hearing loss in patients with VS. The relevance of these findings to the surgical treatment of these tumors is discussed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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