The proton beam's Bragg peak permits highly conformal radiation of skull base tumors. This study, prompted by reports of transient (30% each) and permanent (10% each) facial and trigeminal neuropathy after stereotactic radiosurgery of vestibular schwannomas with marginal doses of 16-20 Gy, assessed whether proton beam radiosurgery using a marginal dose of only 12 Gy could control vestibular schwannomas while causing less neuropathy.Sixty-eight patients (mean age 67 years) were treated between 1992 and 1998. The mean tumor volume was 2.49 cm(3). The dose to the tumor margin (70% isodose line) was 12 Gy. The prospectively specified follow-up consisted of neurologic evaluation and MRI at 6, 12, 24, and 36 months.After a mean clinical follow-up of 44 months and imaging follow-up of 34 months in 64 patients, 35 tumors (54.7%) were smaller and 25 (39.1%) were unchanged (tumor control rate 94%; actuarial control rate 94% at 2 years and 84% at 5 years). Three tumors enlarged: one shrank after repeated radiosurgery, one remained enlarged at the time of unrelated death, and one had not been imaged for 4 years in a patient who remained asymptomatic at last follow-up. Intratumoral hemorrhage into one stable tumor required craniotomy that proved successful. Thus, 97% of tumors required no additional treatment. Three patients (4.7%) underwent shunting for hydrocephalus evident as increased ataxia. Of 6 patients with functional hearing ipsilaterally, 1 improved, 1 was unchanged, and 4 progressively lost hearing. Cranial neuropathies were infrequent: persistent facial hypesthesia (2 new, 1 exacerbated; 4.7%); intermittent facial paresthesias (5 new, 1 exacerbated; 9.4%); persistent facial weakness (2 new, 1 exacerbated; 4.7%) requiring oculoplasty; transient partial facial weakness (5 new, 1 exacerbated; 9.4%), and synkinesis (5 new, 1 exacerbated; 9.4%).Proton beam stereotactic radiosurgery of vestibular schwannomas at the doses used in this study controls tumor growth with relatively few complications.
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View details for PubMedID 12182972