Growth of untreated vestibular schwannoma: a prospective study

J Neurosurg. 2012 Apr;116(4):706-12. doi: 10.3171/2011.12.JNS111662. Epub 2012 Jan 20.


Object: Small vestibular schwannomas (VSs) are often conservatively managed and treated only upon growth. Growth is usually reported in mm/year, but describing the growth of a 3D structure by a single diameter has been questioned. As a result, VS growth dynamics should be further investigated. In addition, baseline clinical parameters that could predict growth would be helpful. In this prospective study the authors aimed to describe growth dynamics in a cohort of conservatively managed VSs. They also compared different growth models and evaluated the ability of baseline parameters to predict future growth.

Methods: Between 2000 and 2006, 178 consecutive patients with unilateral de novo small-sized VSs identified among the Norwegian population of 4.8 million persons were referred to a tertiary care center and were included in a study protocol of conservative management. Tumor size was defined by MR imaging-based volume estimates and was recorded along with clinical data at regular visits. Mixed-effects models were used to analyze the relationships between observations. Three growth models were compared using statistical diagnostic tests: a mm/year-based model, a cm(3)/year-based model, and a volume doubling time (VDT)-based model. A receiver operating characteristic curve analysis was used to determine a cutoff for the VDT-based model for distinguishing growing and nongrowing tumors.

Results: A mean growth rate corresponding to a VDT of 4.40 years (95% CI 3.49-5.95) was found. Other growth models in this study revealed mean growth rates of 0.66 mm/year (95% CI 0.47-0.86) and 0.19 cm(3)/year (95% CI 0.12-0.26). Volume doubling time was found to be the most realistic growth model. All baseline variables had p values > 0.09 for predicting growth.

Conclusions: Based on the actual measurements, VDT was the most correct way to describe VS growth. The authors found that a cutoff of 5.22 years provided the best value to distinguish growing from nongrowing tumors. None of the investigated baseline predictors were usable as predictors of growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Computer Graphics
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / pathology*
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tumor Burden*