Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Chin Med J (Engl). 2010 Feb 5;123(3):274-80.

Removal of vestibular schwannoma and facial nerve preservation using small suboccipital retrosigmoid craniotomy.

Author information

Department of Neurosurgery, Xuanwu Hospital, Capital Medical University, China International Neuroscience Institute, No. 45 Chuangchun Street, Beijing 100053, China.



Vestibular schwannoma, the commonest form of intracranial schwannoma, arises from the Schwann cells investing the vestibular nerve. At present, the surgery for vestibular schwannoma remains one of the most complicated operations demanding for surgical skills in neurosurgery. And the trend of minimal invasion should also be the major influence on the management of patients with vestibular schwannomas. We summarized the microsurgical removal experience in a recent series of vestibular schwannomas and presented the operative technique and cranial nerve preservation in order to improve the rates of total tumor removal and facial nerve preservation.


A retrospective analysis was performed in 145 patients over a 7-year period who suffered from vestibular schwannomas that had been microsurgically removed by suboccipital retrosigmoid transmeatus approach with small craniotomy. CT thinner scans revealed the tumor size in the internal auditory meatus and the relationship of the posterior wall of the internal acoustic meatus to the bone labyrinths preoperatively. Brain stem evoked potential was monitored intraoperatively. The posterior wall of the internal acoustic meatus was designedly drilled off. Patient records and operative reports, including data from the electrophysiological monitoring, follow-up audiometric examinations, and neuroradiological findings were analyzed.


Total tumor resection was achieved in 140 cases (96.6%) and subtotal resection in 5 cases. The anatomical integrity of the facial nerve was preserved in 91.0% (132/145) of the cases. Intracranial end-to-end anastomosis of the facial nerve was performed in 7 cases. Functional preservation of the facial nerve was achieved in 115 patients (Grade I and Grade II, 79.3%). No patient died in this series. Preservation of nerves and vessels were as important as tumor removal during the operation. CT thinner scan could show the relationship between the posterior wall of the internal acoustic meatus and bone labyrinths, that is helpful for a safe drilling of the posterior wall of the internal acoustic meatus.


The goal of every surgery should be the preservation of function of all cranial nerves. Using the retrosigmoid approach with small craniotomy is possible even for large schwannomas. Knowing the microanatomy of the cerebellopontine angle and internal auditory meatus, intraoperating neurophysiological monitoring of the facial nerve function, and the microsurgical techniques of the surgeons are all important factors for improving total tumor removal and preserving facial nerve function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center