An update on unilateral sporadic small vestibular schwannoma

Neurosurg Focus. 2012 Sep;33(3):E1. doi: 10.3171/2012.6.FOCUS12144.


Advances in neuroimaging have increased the detection rate of small vestibular schwannomas (VSs, maximum diameter < 25 mm). Current management modalities include observation with serial imaging, stereotactic radiosurgery, and microsurgical resection. Selecting one approach over another invites speculation, and no standard management consensus has been established. Moreover, there is a distinct clinical heterogeneity among patients harboring small VSs, making standardization of management difficult. The aim of this article is to guide treating physicians toward the most plausible therapeutic option based on etiopathogenesis and the highest level of existing evidence specific to the different cohorts of hypothetical case scenarios. Hypothetical cases were created to represent 5 commonly encountered scenarios involving patients with sporadic unilateral small VSs, and the literature was reviewed with a focus on small VS. The authors extrapolated from the data to the hypothetical case scenarios, and based on the level of evidence, they discuss the most suitable patient-specific treatment strategies. They conclude that observation and imaging, stereotactic radiosurgery, and microsurgery are all important components of the management strategy. Each has unique advantages and disadvantages best suited to certain clinical scenarios. The treatment of small VS should always be tailored to the clinical, personal, and social requirements of an individual patient, and a rigid treatment protocol is not practical.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Facial Nerve / pathology
  • Facial Nerve / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality*
  • Hearing Loss / etiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Microsurgery
  • Neuroma, Acoustic* / complications
  • Neuroma, Acoustic* / diagnosis
  • Neuroma, Acoustic* / surgery
  • Radiosurgery
  • Treatment Outcome