Long-term clinical outcomes of hypofractionated stereotactic radiotherapy using the CyberKnife robotic radiosurgery system for jugular foramen schwannomas

J Neurosurg. 2023 Nov 17:1-8. doi: 10.3171/2023.8.JNS231026. Online ahead of print.


Objective: Jugular foramen schwannomas (JFSs) are rarely seen, benign tumors with slow growth. Today, management options for JFSs include observation, surgery, and radiation. However, the optimal treatment strategy remains controversial. Stereotactic radiosurgery serves as a minimally invasive alternative or adjuvant therapeutic regimen of microsurgery. Gamma Knife radiosurgery is suitable for patients with JFS who have small- and medium-sized tumors and normal cranial nerve (CN) function. Hypofractionated stereotactic radiotherapy (HSRT) offers a potential radiobiological advantage and may result in better preservation of normal structures compared to single-fraction stereotactic radiosurgery. The aim of the article was to review the clinical and radiographic outcomes of patients with JFS who were treated using HSRT.

Methods: The authors retrospectively analyzed 74 patients with JFS who received HSRT between January 2009 and January 2020 in the authors' center. Among them, 53 patients were newly diagnosed with JFS, 19 patients had a previous history of microsurgical resection, and the other 2 patients underwent CyberKnife because of tumor recurrence after Gamma Knife radiosurgery. A total of 73 patients had preexisting CN symptoms and signs. The median tumor volume was 14.8 cm3 (range 0.5-41.2 cm3), and most of them (70.3%) were ≥ 10 cm3. The radiation dose regimen was prescribed depending on the tumor size, and more fractions were used in larger tumors. The median margin doses prescribed were 18.2 Gy/2 fractions, 21.0 Gy/3 fractions, and 21.6 Gy/4 fractions.

Results: The median follow-up was 103 months (range 18-158 months). After treatment, 42 (56.8%) patients had tumor regression, 27 (36.5%) patients had stable tumors, and 5 (6.8%) experienced tumor progression. Among them, MRI revealed that 1 patient had a complete response. Three patients received surgery at a median of 25 months because of tumor progression. One patient underwent ventriculoperitoneal shunt insertion for hydrocephalus that developed after HSRT independent of tumor progression. The 5-year progression-free survival rate was 93.2%. Preexisting cranial neuropathies improved in 46 patients, remained stable in 14, and worsened in 14.

Conclusions: HSRT proved to be a safe and effective primary or adjuvant treatment strategy for JFSs, although 14 patients (18.9%) experienced some degree of delayed symptomatic deterioration posttreatment. This therapeutic option was demonstrated to provide both excellent tumor control and improvement in CN function.

Keywords: CyberKnife; hypofractionated stereotactic radiotherapy; jugular foramen schwannomas; stereotactic radiosurgery; tumor.