Are the Current Treatment Strategies for Facial Nerve Schwannoma Appropriate Also for Complex Cases?

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Objectives: To describe the decision-making strategies for complex facial nerve schwannomas (FNSs). Materials and Methods: Charts belonging to 103 consecutive patients with facial nerve tumors managed between 1990 and 2011 were examined retrospectively to identify complex FNSs. To be classified as complex, at least one of the following criteria had to be met: (1) FNS with large intraparotid tumor component and preoperative good facial nerve function (3 cases); (2) multiple-segment FNSs with extension to both the cerebellopontine angle and the middle cranial fossa in patients with preoperative good hearing (5 cases); (3) fast-growing FNS with preoperative good facial nerve function (4 cases), and (4) large FNS compressing the temporal lobe with preoperative normal facial nerve function (1 case). Results: Thirteen patients were classified as complex; 12 patients had total tumor removal with sural nerve grafting and 1 patient had partial tumor removal. Two patients with intratemporal-intraparotid FNS underwent a transmastoid-transparotid approach. One patient with a tumor extending from the geniculate ganglion to the parotid portion of the facial nerve underwent a combined middle fossa transmastoid-transparotid approach. A transcochlear approach with temporal craniotomy was performed in all the patients with multiple-segment FNS as well as in patients with fast-growing tumors extending both in the cerebellopontine angle and middle cranial fossa. A partial tumor removal through the middle fossa approach was performed in 1 patient with a large tumor compressing the temporal lobe. Conclusions: Therapeutic options for patients with FNS include surgical intervention, observation and radiotherapy. Nowadays, surgical resection with facial nerve repair is usually the standard management for patients with poor facial function (House-Brackmann grade III or worse). In patients presenting with normal or near-normal facial nerve function, initial observation with periodic examination and imaging is usually recommended. However, on rare occasions surgeons can be faced with a situation in which the management decision-making process is particularly challenging. In these complex cases treatment should be individualized. We recommend early surgical intervention regardless of the preoperative facial and hearing functions in the following cases: intratemporal FNSs extending with a large tumor component into the parotid, multiple-segment FNSs extending in both the cerebellopontine angle and the middle cranial fossa, fast-growing FNSs, and large FNSs with temporal lobe compression.Copyright © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel

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