OBJECTIVE A randomized trial that compares clinical outcomes following microsurgery (MS) or stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) for patients with small- and medium-sized vestibular schwannomas (VSs) is impractical, but would have important implications for clinical decision making. A matched cohort analysis was conducted to evaluate clinical outcomes in patients treated with MS or SRS. METHODS The records of 399 VS patients who were cared for by 2 neurosurgeons and 1 neurotologist between 2001 and 2014 were evaluated. From this data set, 3 retrospective matched cohorts were created to compare hearing preservation (21 matched pairs), facial nerve preservation (83 matched pairs), intervention-free survival, and complication rates (85 matched pairs) between cases managed with SRS and patients managed with MS. Cases were matched for age at surgery (± 10 years) and lesion size (± 0.1 cm). To compare hearing outcomes, cases were additionally matched for preoperative Class A hearing according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery guidelines. To compare facial nerve (i.e., cranial nerve [CN] VII) outcomes, cases were additionally matched for preoperative House-Brackmann (HB) score. Investigators who were not involved with patient care reviewed the clinical and imaging records. The reported outcomes were as assessed at the time of the last follow-up, unless otherwise stated. RESULTS The preservation of preoperative Class A hearing status was achieved in 14.3% of MS cases compared with 42.9% of SRS cases (OR 4.5; p < 0.05) after an average follow-up interval of 43.7 months and 30.3 months, respectively. Serviceable hearing was preserved in 42.8% of MS cases compared with 85.7% of SRS cases (OR 8.0; p < 0.01). The rates of postoperative CN VII dysfunction were low for both groups, although significantly higher in the MS group (HB III-IV 11% vs 0% for SRS; OR 21.3; p < 0.01) at a median follow-up interval of 35.7 and 19.0 months for MS and SRS, respectively. There was no difference in the need for subsequent intervention (2 MS patients and 2 SRS patients). CONCLUSIONS At this high-volume center, VS resection or radiosurgery for tumors ≤ 2.8 cm in diameter was associated with low overall morbidity. The need for subsequent intervention was the same in both groups. SRS was associated with improved hearing and facial preservation rates and reduced morbidity, but with a shorter average follow-up period. Facial function was excellent in both groups. Since patients were not randomly selected for surgery, different clinical outcomes may be of different value to individual patients. Both anticipated medical outcomes and patient goals remain the drivers of treatment decisions.
Keywords: AAO-HNS =American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery; DVT = deep venous thrombosis; Gamma Knife; HB = House-Brackmann; MS = microsurgery; SRS = stereotactic radiosurgery; VS = vestibular schwannoma; facial nerve; hearing preservation; microsurgery; stereotactic radiosurgery; vestibular schwannoma.