Retrosigmoid versus middle fossa approach for hearing and facial nerve preservation in vestibular schwannoma surgery: A systematic review and comparative meta-analysis

J Clin Neurosci. 2024 Jun:124:1-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2024.04.007. Epub 2024 Apr 13.


Background: Vestibular schwannomas (VS) are benign tumors arising from vestibular nerve's Schwann cells. Surgical resection via retrosigmoid (RS) or middle fossa (MF) is standard, but the optimal approach remains debated. This meta-analysis evaluated RS and MF approaches for VS management, emphasizing hearing preservation and Cranial nerve seven (CN VII) outcomes stratified by tumor size.

Methods: Systematic searches across PubMed, Cochrane, Web of Science, and Embase identified relevant studies. Hearing and CN VII outcomes were gauged using the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Gardner Robertson, and House-Brackmann scores.

Results: Among 7228 patients, 56 % underwent RS and 44 % MF. For intracanalicular tumors, MF recorded 38 % hearing loss, compared to RS's 54 %. In small tumors (<1.5 cm), MF showed 41 % hearing loss, contrasting RS's lower 15 %. Medium-sized tumors (1.5 cm-2.9 cm) revealed 68 % hearing loss in MF and 55 % in RS. Large tumors (>3cm) were only reported in RS with a hearing loss rate of 62 %.

Conclusion: Conclusively, while MF may be preferable for intracanalicular tumors, RS demonstrated superior hearing preservation for small to medium-sized tumors. This research underlines the significance of stratified outcomes by tumor size, guiding surgical decisions and enhancing patient outcomes.

Keywords: Acoustic neurinoma; Middle fossa approach; Retrosigmoid approach; Vestibular schwannoma.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cranial Fossa, Middle / surgery
  • Facial Nerve / surgery
  • Hearing / physiology
  • Hearing Loss / etiology
  • Hearing Loss / prevention & control
  • Hearing Loss / surgery
  • Humans
  • Neuroma, Acoustic* / surgery
  • Neurosurgical Procedures* / methods