Management of 1000 vestibular schwannomas (acoustic neuromas): surgical management and results with an emphasis on complications and how to avoid them

Neurosurgery. 1997 Jan;40(1):11-21; discussion 21-3. doi: 10.1097/00006123-199701000-00002.


Objective: To identify the actual benefits and persisting problems in treating vestibular schwannomas by the suboccipital approach, the results and complications in a consecutive series of 1000 tumors surgically treated by the senior author were analyzed and compared with experiences involving other treatment modalities.

Methods: Pre- and postoperative clinical statuses were determined and radiological and surgical findings were collected and evaluated in a large database for 962 patients undergoing 1000 vestibular schwannoma operations at Nordstadt's neurosurgical department from 1978 to 1993.

Results: By the suboccipital transmeatal approach, 979 tumors were completely removed; in 21 cases, deliberate partial removal was performed either in severely ill patients for decompression of the brain stem or in an attempt to preserve hearing in the last hearing ear. Anatomic preservation of the facial nerve was achieved in 93% of the patients and of the cochlear nerve in 68%. Major neurological complications included 1 case of tetraparesis, 10 cases of hemiparesis, and caudal cranial nerve palsies in 5.5% of the cases. Surgical complications included hematomas in 2.2% of the cases, cerebrospinal fluid fistulas in 9.2%, hydrocephalus in 2.3%, bacterial meningitis in 1.2%, and wound revisions in 1.1%. There were 11 deaths occurring at 2 to 69 days postoperatively (1.1%). The techniques that were developed for avoidance of complications are reported. The analysis identifies preexisting severe general and/or neurological morbidity, cystic tumor formation, and major caudal cranial nerve deficits as relevant risk factors.

Conclusion: The current treatment options of complete tumor resection with ongoing reduction of morbidity are well fulfilled by the suboccipital approach. By careful patient selection, the mortality rate should be further reduced to below 1%.

MeSH terms

  • Cranial Nerve Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Cranial Nerve Diseases / etiology
  • Cranial Nerve Diseases / prevention & control
  • Craniotomy / methods
  • Deafness / diagnostic imaging
  • Deafness / etiology
  • Deafness / prevention & control
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnostic imaging
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / mortality
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / surgery
  • Neoplasm, Residual / diagnostic imaging
  • Neoplasm, Residual / mortality
  • Neoplasm, Residual / surgery
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / diagnostic imaging
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / mortality
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnostic imaging
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Reoperation
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome