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Neurosurgery. 1997 Apr;40(4):684-94; discussion 694-5.

Management of 1000 vestibular schwannomas (acoustic neuromas): the facial nerve--preservation and restitution of function.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Nordstadt Hospital, Hannover, Germany.



Although the rate of reported facial nerve preservation after surgery for vestibular schwannomas continuously increases, facial nerve paresis or paralysis is a frequent postsurgical sequelae of major concern. The major goal of this study was to define criteria for the right indication, timing, and type of therapy for patients with palsies despite anatomic nerve continuity and those with loss of anatomic continuity.


One thousand vestibular schwannomas were surgically treated at the Department of Neurosurgery at Nordstadt Hospital from 1978 to 1993. Of 979 cases of complete removal and 21 cases of deliberately partial removal, the facial nerve was anatomically preserved in 929 cases (93%). The rate of preservation is increasing, as is evidenced in the most recent cases, and preservation is supported by special electrophysiological monitoring. The facial nerve was anatomically severed in 60 cases (6%). It was anatomically lost in previous operations that were performed elsewhere in 11 cases (1%). In case of nerve discontinuity (42 cases), immediate nerve reconstruction by one of three available intracranial procedures (within the cerebellopontine angle, intracranial-intratemporal, intracranial-extracranial) was performed in the same surgical setting. In case of loss of the proximal facial nerve stump at the brain stem, early reanimation by combination with the hypoglossal nerve was achieved in most patients within weeks after tumor surgery. In a few patients with anatomic nerve continuity but absence of reinnervation for 10 to 12 months, a hypoglossal-facial combination was applied. All the patients with partial or with complete palsies were treated in a special follow-up program of regular controls and of modulation of physiotherapeutic treatment every 3 to 6 months.


In intracranial nerve reconstruction at the cerebellopontine angle, 61 to 70% of patients regained complete eye closure and an overall result equivalent to House-Brackmann Grade 3. Hypoglossal-facial reanimation led to Grade 3 in 79%. The duration between the onset of paralysis and the reconstructive procedure is decisive for the quality of the outcome. These data are discussed in view of other treatment options and certain parameters influencing outcome.


This management contains three major principles as follows: 1) preservation of facial nerve continuity in function by the aid of intraoperative monitoring, 2) early nerve reconstruction in case of lost continuity, and 3) scheduled follow-up program for all patients with incomplete or complete palsies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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