BACKGROUND: Cystic vestibular schwannomas (VSs) are described as being more aggressive than solid tumors.
OBJECTIVE: We examined 468 VS patients to evaluate whether the presence of cystic components in VSs may be an important feature for predicting postoperative outcome.
METHODS: We selected all VS patients from a prospectively collected database (1984-2009) who underwent microsurgical resection for VS. Hearing data were analyzed using American Association of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. Facial nerve dysfunction was analyzed using the House-Brackmann scale. We used univariate comparisons to determine the clinical impact of cystic changes on preoperative and postsurgical hearing and facial nerve preservation.
RESULTS: We identified 58 patients (11%) with cystic changes and 410 patients with solid VSs. In this analysis, cystic VS patients tended to have larger tumors (78% of patients with >2.0 cm extrameatal extension) compared with the solid VS group, which consisted of many smaller and medium-sized tumors (P < .0001). Univariate analyses found that tumors with cystic changes did not lead to worse rates of preoperative hearing loss (χ2, P = not significant) compared with solid VSs. Cystic changes conferred worse postoperative hearing in patients with medium-sized tumors (P = .035). Cystic changes also did not significantly affect facial nerve outcomes (χ2, P = not significant).
CONCLUSION: Cystic tumors tend to be larger than noncystic tumors and affect outcomes by reducing the rate at which hearing preservation is attempted and by worsening hearing outcome in medium-sized tumors. Further, peripheral cysts cause lower rates of hearing preservation compared with centrally located cysts.