Facial nerve injury in acoustic neuroma (vestibular schwannoma) surgery: etiology and prevention

Department of Neurological Surgery, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland 21287-7709, USA.
Journal of Neurosurgery (Impact Factor: 3.23). 08/1997; 87(1):60-6. DOI: 10.3171/jns.1997.87.1.0060
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Facial nerve injury associated with acoustic neuroma surgery has declined in incidence but remains a clinical concern. A retrospective analysis of 611 patients surgically treated for acoustic neuroma between 1973 and 1994 was undertaken to understand patterns of facial nerve injury more clearly and to identify factors that influence facial nerve outcome. Anatomical preservation of the facial nerve was achieved in 596 patients (97.5%). In the immediate postoperative period, 62.1% of patients displayed normal or near-normal facial nerve function (House-Brackmann Grade 1 or 2). This number rose to 85.3% of patients at 6 months after surgery and by 1 year, 89.7% of patients who had undergone acoustic neuroma surgery demonstrated normal or near-normal facial nerve function. The surgical approach appeared to have no effect on the incidence of facial nerve injury. Poor facial nerve outcome (House-Brackmann Grade 5 or 6) was seen in 1.58% of patients treated via the suboccipital approach and in 2.6% of patients treated via the translabyrinthine approach. When facial nerve outcome was examined with respect to tumor size, there clearly was an increased incidence of facial nerve palsy seen in the immediate postoperative period in cases of larger tumors: 60.8% of patients with tumors smaller than 2.5 cm had normal facial nerve function, whereas only 37.5% of patients with tumors larger than 4 cm had normal function. This difference was less pronounced, however, 6 months after surgery, when 92.1% of patients with tumors smaller than 2.5 cm had normal or near normal facial function, versus 75% of patients with tumors larger than 4 cm. The etiology of facial nerve injury is discussed with emphasis on the pathophysiology of facial nerve palsy. In addition, on the basis of the authors' experience with these complex tumors, techniques of preventing facial nerve injury are discussed.

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