BACKGROUND: Hearing, which is often still clinically useful at presentation even with larger tumors, is a major determinant of quality of life in vestibular schwannoma (VS) patients.
OBJECTIVE: To present the hearing preservation rate after surgery in patients with large (≥3 cm) VSs and identify clinical or radiologic predictors of hearing preservation.
METHODS: From April 2003 to March 2009, 192 patients underwent resection of a VS, including 46 large (≥3 cm) tumors, of whom 28 had serviceable hearing preoperatively. Six of 28 patients (21.4%) had preserved hearing postoperatively.
RESULTS: Mean tumor diameter was 3.6 cm (range, 3.0-5.0 cm) and tumor volume was 17.2 mL (range, 6.9-45.2 mL). For patients with grade A Sanna-Fukushima hearing, the hearing preservation rate was 4 of 11 (36.4%). Complete resection was achieved in 6 of 6 cases with hearing preservation (41/47 for all patients). Six of 6 patients with preserved hearing had a cerebrospinal fluid cleft in the internal auditory canal (IAC) compared with 9 of 16 patients without preoperative hearing and 9 of 20 for patients with serviceable hearing that was lost postoperatively (P = .045). Six of 6 patients with preserved hearing had less than 35% of the tumor anterior to the longitudinal axis of the IAC compared with 13 of 20 in the serviceable hearing that was lost group (P = .036).
CONCLUSION: Our series demonstrates hearing preservation is possible for patients with large VSs and should be attempted in all patients with preoperative hearing. The quality of preoperative hearing, a cerebrospinal fluid cleft at the apex of the IAC, and a smaller proportion of tumor anterior to the IAC were positively associated with hearing preservation.