Surgery versus radiosurgery for vestibular schwannoma: Shared decision making in a multidisciplinary clinic

Neurooncol Adv. 2023 Jul 19;5(1):vdad089. doi: 10.1093/noajnl/vdad089. eCollection 2023 Jan-Dec.


Background: Our neurosurgical unit adopted a model of shared decision-making (SDM) based on multidisciplinary clinics for vestibular schwannoma (VS). A unique feature of this clinic is the interdisciplinary counseling process with a surgeon presenting the option of surgery, an oncologist radiosurgery or radiotherapy, and a specialist nurse advocating for the patient.

Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study. All new patients seen in the combined VS clinic and referred from the skull base multidisciplinary team (MDT) from beginning of June 2013 to end of January 2019 were included. Descriptive statistics and frequency analysis were carried out for the full cohort.

Results: Three hundred and fifty-four patients presenting with new or previously untreated VS were included in the analysis. In our cohort, roughly one-third of patients fall into each of the treatment strategies with slightly smaller numbers of patients undergoing surgery than watch, wait and rescan (WWR) ,and SRS (26.6% vs. 32.8% and 37.9%, respectively).

Conclusion: In our experience, the combined surgery/oncology/specialist nurse clinic streamlines the patient experience for those with a VS suitable for either microsurgical or SRS/radiotherapy treatment. Decision-making in this population of patients is complex and when presented with all treatment options patients do not necessarily choose the least invasive option as a treatment. The unique feature of our clinic is the multidisciplinary counseling process with a specialist nurse advocating and guiding the patient. Treatment options are likely to become more rather than less complex in future years making combined clinics more valuable than ever in the SDM process.

Keywords: patient counseling; shared decision making (SDM); skull base; vestibular schwannoma (VS).