Objective: To examine the incidence of postoperative hearing preservation and the factors that influence early and late postoperative hearing in patients with acoustic neuromas.
Methods: We reviewed the results of surgery and follow-up in 73 consecutive patients.
Results: Of 73 patients, 51 demonstrated preoperative hearing levels equal to or better than Class 3, according to the classification system of Gardner and Robertson (8). After surgery, 21 (41.2%) of the 51 patients retained Class 1, 2, or 3 hearing. Hearing was more likely to be preserved after surgery if the tumor was small and if the preoperative hearing was good. The early postoperative hearing grade declined in 7 (33.3%) of the 21 patients, compared with the preoperative hearing level. The long-term follow-up of 17 patients in whom measurable hearing was retained after surgery indicated that 3 (17.6%) experienced delayed worsening of hearing, without evidence of tumor recurrence. The extent of hearing loss in patients with successful hearing preservation was not correlated with tumor size, preoperative hearing, patient age, or the shape of the cochlear nerve on the tumor surface. Hearing at long-term follow-up was significantly better in patients with excellent preoperative hearing.
Conclusion: Postoperative long-term preservation of hearing is more likely if surgery is performed while the tumor is still small and hearing is still excellent. Under these circumstances, it is more likely that the early and late hearing loss will be compensated.