Treatment of vestibular schwannomas. Why, when and how?

Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2007;149(7):647-60; discussion 660. doi: 10.1007/s00701-007-1179-0. Epub 2007 Jun 11.


Sporadic vestibular schwannoma (VS) causes unilateral hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo and unsteadiness. In many cases, the tumour size may remain unchanged for many years following diagnosis, which is typically made by MRI. In the majority of cases the tumour is small, leaving the clinician and patient with the options of either serial scanning or active treatment by gamma knife radiosurgery (GKR) or microneurosurgery. Despite the vast number of published treatment reports, comparative studies are few, and evidence is no better than class III (May, 2006). The predominant clinical endpoints of VS treatment include tumour control, facial nerve function and hearing preservation. Less focus has been put on symptom relief and health-related quality of life (QOL). It is uncertain if treating a small tumour leaves the patient with a better chance of obtaining relief from future hearing loss, vertigo or tinnitus than by observing it without treatment. Recent data indicate that QOL is reduced in untreated VS patients, and may differ between patients who have been operated and patients treated with GKR. In the present paper we review the natural course and complaints of untreated VS patients, and the treatment alternatives and results. Furthermore, we review the literature concerning quality of life in patients with VS. Finally, we present our experience with a management strategy applied to more than 300 cases since 2001.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Facial Nerve Injuries / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / pathology
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / physiopathology
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / surgery*
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / standards*
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / trends
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Quality of Life
  • Radiosurgery / standards*
  • Radiosurgery / trends
  • Risk Assessment
  • Vestibular Nerve / pathology
  • Vestibular Nerve / physiopathology
  • Vestibular Nerve / surgery*
  • Vestibulocochlear Nerve Diseases / prevention & control