Identification of cranial nerves near large vestibular schwannomas using superselective diffusion tensor tractography: experience with 23 cases
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The preservation of the facial nerve (FN) and acoustic function in large vestibular schwannoma (VS) surgery is challenging because of nerve course uncertainties and morphological deviations. Preoperative diffusion tensor tractography (DTT) has been proposed to predict the FN location. This study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of this technique for identifying the FN, cochlear nerve (CN) and trigeminal nerve (TN) in large VSs.
The study included 23 consecutive patients with VS of Hannover classification T3b to T4b from November 2013 through May 2014. Diffusion tensor images and anatomical images were acquired. The DTT images of the cranial nerves were extracted before surgery for each patient to determine the relationships of these nerves with the tumor. The results were then validated during the tumorectomy.
In 21 (91.30 %) patients, the location of the FN on the DTT images agreed with the intraoperative findings, including in 2 patients in whom the FN passed through the interface between the parenchyma and the cystic changes and in 3 patients with a membranoid FN. The CN or fibers of unclear function were observed on DTT images in four patients with functional hearing. One penetrating fiber of unknown function was effectively constructed. The TN was accurately detected on the DTT images for all patients.
DTT effectively revealed the location of the FN, including cases in which the FN was membranoid or passed through the interface between an area exhibiting cystic changes and the tumor nodule. Fibers aside from the FN and the TN were revealed by DTT in patients who retained functional hearing. Penetrating fibers were also found using DTT. This technique can be useful during VS resection.
KeywordsVestibular schwannoma Diffusion tensor tractography Facial nerve Cochlear nerve
This work was supported by the National High Technology Research and Development Program of China (grant no. 2013AA013803).
All authors certify that they have NO affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest (such as honoraria; educational grants; participation in speakers’ bureaus; membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interest; and expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements), or non-financial interest (such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge or beliefs) in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.
Conflicts of interest
Further illustration of Fig. 4. The video shows the residual cyst after tumor resection, which pulsed with the heartbeat. The vein and FN fiber were identified on the surface of the cyst. (MPG 25828 kb)
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