Microsurgery and stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) for vestibular schwannomas are associated with a relatively high incidence of sensorineural hearing loss. A prospective trial of fractionated SRS was undertaken in an attempt to preserve hearing and minimize incidental cranial nerve injury.Thirty-three patients with vestibular schwannomas were treated with 2100 cGy in three fractions during a 24-hour period using conventional frame-based linear accelerator radiosurgery. The median tumor diameter was 20 mm (range, 7-42 mm). Baseline and follow-up evaluations included audiometry and contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging. End points were tumor progression, preservation of serviceable hearing, and treatment-related complications.Thirty-one patients (32 tumors) were assessable for tumor progression and treatment-related complications and 21 patients for preservation of serviceable hearing, with a median follow-up interval of 2 years (range, 0.5-4.0 yr). Tumor regression or stabilization was documented in 30 patients (97%) and tumor progression in 1 (3%). The patient with tumor progression remains asymptomatic and has not required surgical intervention. Five patients (16%) developed trigeminal nerve injury at a median of 6 months (range, 4-12 mo) after SRS; two of these patients had preexisting trigeminal neuropathy. One patient (3%) developed facial nerve injury (House-Brackmann Class 3) 7 months after SRS. Preservation of useful hearing (Gardner-Robertson Class 1-2) was 77% at 2 years. All patients with pretreatment Gardner-Robertson Class 1 to 2 hearing maintained serviceable (Class 1-3) hearing as of their last follow-up examination.Three-fraction SRS with a conventional stereotactic frame is feasible and well tolerated in the treatment of acoustic neuroma. This study demonstrates a high rate of hearing preservation and few treatment-related complications among a relatively high-risk patient cohort (tumors >15 mm or neurofibromatosis Type 2). Longer follow-up will be required to assess the durability of tumor control.
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View details for PubMedID 10598696