To compare the advantages, disadvantages, and results obtained with the middle fossa and retrosigmoid-transmeatal approaches during pure intracanalar vestibular schwannoma surgery in an attempt to preserve hearing.
Prospective study of patients treated from 1998 to 2001.
Tertiary care referral center.
Patients with intracanalar vestibular schwannoma (size ranging from 4 to 12 mm), 25 operated on with the retrosigmoid-transmeatal technique and 25 via the middle fossa route.
Main Outcome Measures
Facial nerve and auditory function were examined at 1 year with both techniques. Auditory results were also evaluated as a function of tumor size, distance from the internal auditory canal fundus, and internal auditory canal enlargement.
The results indicated no significant difference in facial nerve and auditory function results between the two techniques. The retrosigmoid-transmeatal approach, however, yielded better facial nerve function results at discharge. Postoperative hearing was better when the distance from the fundus was greater than 3 mm, when the size of the vestibular schwannoma was equal to or less than 7 mm, and when the internal auditory canal enlargement was less than 3 mm.
The middle fossa approach does not afford any particular advantages over the retrosigmoid-transmeatal approach in terms of auditory results. Facial nerve function is less satisfactory in the short term, when the middle fossa route is used, but can be improved by decompression and gentle displacement of the facial nerve in its labyrinthine portion.