Evolution in the assessment and management of trigeminal schwannoma

Laryngoscope. 2008 Feb;118(2):195-203. doi: 10.1097/MLG.0b013e3181596091.


Educational objective: At the conclusion of this presentation, the participants should be able to understand the contemporary assessment and management algorithm used in the evaluation and care of patients with trigeminal schwannomas.

Objectives: 1) Describe the contemporary neuroradiographic studies for the assessment of trigeminal schwannoma; 2) review the complex skull base osteology involved with these lesions; and 3) describe a contemporary management algorithm.

Study design: Retrospective review of 23 cases.

Methods: Chart review.

Results: From 1984 to 2006, of 23 patients with trigeminal schwannoma (10 males and 13 females, ages 14-77 years), 15 patients underwent combined transpetrosal extirpation, 5 patients underwent stereotactic radiation, and 3 were followed without intervention. Of the 15 who underwent surgery, total tumor removal was achieved in 9 patients. Cytoreductive surgery was performed in six patients; of these, four received postoperative radiation. One patient who underwent primary radiation therapy required subsequent surgery. There were no deaths in this series. Cranial neuropathies were present in 14 patients pretreatment and observed in 17 patients posttreatment. Major complications included meningitis (1), cerebrospinal fluid leakage (2), major venous occlusion (1), and temporal lobe infarction (1).

Conclusions: Trigeminal schwannomas are uncommon lesions of the skull base that may occur in the middle fossa, posterior fossa, or both. Moreover, caudal extension results in their presentation in the infratemporal fossa. Contemporary diagnostic imaging, coupled with selective use of both surgery and radiation will limit morbidity and allow for the safe and prudent management of this uncommon lesion.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurilemmoma* / pathology
  • Neurilemmoma* / radiotherapy
  • Neurilemmoma* / surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Radiosurgery / instrumentation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skull Base Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Skull Base Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Skull Base Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Trigeminal Nerve* / pathology
  • Trigeminal Nerve* / radiation effects
  • Trigeminal Nerve* / surgery