Study Confirms Effectiveness of Gamma Knife Surgery for Intracanalicular Vestibular Schwannoma

According to a study published in January in the scientific journal Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, the use of gamma knife surgery as a treatment for a rare tumor called a vestibular schwannoma can be very effective. Prior studies have suggested that surgery using a gamma knife can be a very effective method for treating these tumors. However, these studies had been conducted using a small sample of patients. The goal of this research was to see if the promising results could be replicated with a large group. 

About Vestibular Schwannomas

A vestibular schwannoma (VS) is an intracranial tumor that is typically benign and affects the Schwann cells. These cells are part of the nervous system and are responsible for producing myelin. The cause of these tumors is often a mystery in most cases, but some research suggests that genetic alterations to the tumor suppressor gene could be a cause. Patients with the rare disorder neurofibromatosis type 2 are also at an elevated risk for vestibular schwannomas. Symptoms of this tumor include hearing loss, tinnitus, balance problems, pressure in the ears, headaches, facial paralysis or weakness, and increased intracranial pressure. This last symptom is a sign of a large tumor and is potentially life-threatening. The most common treatments for vestibular schwannomas are radiation therapy or surgery. In small tumors that do not grow, simple observation may be all that is necessary. To learn more about vestibular schwannoma, click here.

About the Study

This study focused on the intracanalicular form of the tumor; these are tumors that expand along the auditory canal into the skull. The study looked at data from 136 patients. All of them had been treated with gamma knife surgery from 2011-2015. The mean age of this group was 54 years and they had a mean follow-up duration after the operation of 52 months.

The overall findings from the study indicate that gamma knife surgery is effective. 91.2 percent of the patients successfully controlled the growth of their tumor. 23.5 percent of patients experienced improvement in hearing. 26.5 percent of patients saw no changes to hearing after the operation. Gamma knife surgery appears to be a good option for intracanalicular vestibular schwannomas, with low incidence of adverse after-effects.

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