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Skull Base. 2005 November; 15(4): 291–298.
PMCID: PMC1380269

Craniofacial resection for nonmelanoma skin cancer of the head and neck. Laryngoscope 2005;115:931-937


Objectives/Hypothesis: We reviewed our experience with craniofacial resection for advanced, nonmelanoma skin cancer of the head and neck to determine prognostic factors, local control rate, disease free survival, morbidity, and mortality.

Study Design: Retrospective review of consecutive patients treated at a tertiary referral center from 1982 to 1993.

Methods: Charts of patients having craniofacial resection for aggressive nonmelanoma cutaneous malignancies were reviewed and living patients followed for 10 additional years. Demographics, histology, previous interventions, treatment, surgical pathology, reconstructions, and complications were examined. The product-limit method was used to calculate survival functions, and the log-rank test was used to compare survival distributions.

Results: Thirty-five patients, mean age 66.7 years, received treatment at our facility. Follow-up ranged from 2 to 191 (mean 47.4) months. Histology included 20 squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) and 15 basal cell carcinomas (BCC). Sixty percent had craniofacial resection alone, and 28.6% also had postoperative radiotherapy. There were two perioperative deaths, and 37.1% suffered early and 14.3% late surgical complications. Two- and five- year survival was significantly better (P = .02) with BCC (92% and 76%) than with SCC (54% and 24%). Long-term disease-specific survival was 20%, and 11.4% of our subjects were living with disease. Intracranial extension (P = .02), perineural invasion (P = .049), and prior radiotherapy significantly decreased 5-year survival.

Conclusions: Acceptable mortality and morbidity is possible using craniofacial resection to treat advanced nonmelanoma skin cancer. Although disease-specific survival remains poor, positive trends were noted in local control beginning at 2 years of follow-up. Because patients often have few remaining options for cure, craniofacial resection is justified when technically feasible.

Skull Base. 2005 November; 15(4): 291–292.

Headache: A quality of life analysis in a cohort of 1,657 patients undergoing acoustic neuroma surgery, results from the acoustic neuroma association. Laryngoscope 2005;115:703-711


Objectives: On the basis of survey results of the Acoustic Neuroma Association (ANA), we report patient ratings of postoperative headache (POH) symptoms, determine its effect on quality of life (QOL), and review the literature regarding POH after acoustic neuroma (AN) treatment.

Study Design: In this cohort study, 1,657 patients who underwent surgical treatment of AN reported their experiences of POH.

Methods: A detailed questionnaire was mailed to members of the ANA to identify preoperative and postoperative headache symptoms, complications, and long-term effects on physical and psychosocial function. Questions were answered by 1657 (85.4%) respondents that were intended to qualify and quantify the effects of POH, including QOL issues. Responses were analyzed by tumor size, surgical approach, and patient age and sex. Statistical analysis was performed with the SPSS software.

Results: Preoperative headache was reported in approximately one third of respondents. Typical POHs occurred more than once daily (46%), lasted 1 to 4 hours in duration (43.1%), and were of moderate intensity (62.6%). The worst headaches were rated as “severe” by 77% of respondents. Treatment most often reported for typical headaches were nonprescription medications including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in 61.3% (P< .01) and regular use of narcotics in 15%. Patients who underwent the retrosigmoid approach were significantly more likely to report their worst POH as “severe” (82.3%) compared with the translabyrinthine (75.2%) and middle fossa approaches (63.3%). Women and younger patients tended to have poorer outcomes with regard to POHs.

Conclusions: In this large cohort study of AN patients, POH was a significant morbidity among AN patients with persistent headaches. Treating physicians should be aware of the risk factors identified and the effect POH has on the QOL when counseling patients regarding optimal treatment management.

Skull Base. 2005 November; 15(4): 292.

Combined retrosigmoid retrolabyrinthine vestibular nerve section: Results of our experience over 10 years. Otol Neurotol 2005;26:481-483


Objective: We aimed to evaluate the results of our experience in vestibular nerve sectioning (VN), which was performed using combined retrosigmoid-retrolabyrinthine approach.

Study Design: Medical records of 280 patients who were consecutively operated on for incapacitating peripheral vertigo were retrospectively evaluated, and 210 patients who completed 2 years follow-up and had adequate follow-up data were found to be suitable for inclusion in the study.

Methods: Hearing results, vertigo control rates, and complications of the retrosigmoid-retrolabyrinthine VN were evaluated.

Results: The patients were suffering from vertigo for a mean period of 32.2 months. Bilateral Meniere's disease occurred in 5.7% of the patients in the follow-up period. A complete or substantial vertigo control could be achieved in 94.4% of the patients (191 [90.1%] in Class A and 9 [4.3%] in Class B). Preoperative speech reception threshold, pure-tone average, and speech discrimination score of the patients were 56.5 dB, 47.4 dB, and 73.6%, respectively. Postoperative corresponding values were 62.2 dB, 43.4 dB, and 68.5%, respectively (p> 0.05). The complication rate was low (2.5%). Most common complication was abdominal hematoma, which was seen in 4.5%.

Conclusion: VN performed using retrosigmoid-retrolabyrinthine approach has low complication and high vertigo control and hearing preservation rates. It can be applied as an initial surgery or reserved as the last step when the other surgical treatments have failed to control vertigo.

Skull Base. 2005 November; 15(4): 292–293.

Facial paralysis and surgical rehabilitation: A quality of life analysis in a cohort of 1,595 patients after acoustic neuroma surgery. Otol Neurotol 2005;26:516-521


Objectives: On the basis of survey results of the Acoustic Neuroma Association, we report patient ratings of facial dysfunction and outcomes for various facial rehabilitative therapies after surgical treatment of acoustic neuroma (AN). We assessed patients' perceived quality of life (QOL) and reviewed the literature regarding facial dysfunction and its management associated with AN.

Study Design: The Acoustic Neuroma Association mailed a detailed questionnaire to 2,372 members to identify preoperative and postoperative symptoms, complications, and long-term effects on physical and psychosocial function. A cohort of 1,595 (82.2%) respondents who underwent surgical treatment of ANs reported their experiences with facial dysfunction.

Patients: Of all 1,940 survey respondents, 1,682 of 1,875 that had ANs underwent surgical treatment. The study included 1,595 patients with ANs (82.2% of all respondents) who underwent surgical treatment by way of the translabyrinthine, suboccipital, or middle fossa approaches and excluded 87 respondents who did not report the type of surgical approach.

Methods: Respondents answered questions intended to qualify and quantify the degree that facial dysfunction impacted QOL parameters. Responses were analyzed for tumor size, surgical approach, patient age, and sex. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS software.

Results: In our analysis, 11% of all respondents experienced some degree of preoperative facial weakness or eye problems. Of all respondents, 45.5% (725 patients) experienced worsened facial weakness caused by surgery, and of these, 72% reported that it was permanent. The most commonly used successful therapy for facial reanimation for 271 (19.6%) patients was placement of a gold weight. The factor most often associated with poor outcome was a large tumor. Of all respondents, 28% felt significantly affected by facial weakness, 63% felt their smile was symmetric, and 70% were content “quite a bit” or “very much” with their QOL.

Conclusions: In this large cohort study of AN patients, facial dysfunction was a significant morbidity. Physicians should be aware of the risk factors identified, specifically large tumor size and the impact facial dysfunction has on QOL, when counseling patients regarding optimal management of AN.

Skull Base. 2005 November; 15(4): 293.

Localization by unilateral BAHA users. Otolaryngol Head and Neck 2005;132:928-932


Objectives: Patients with unilateral hearing loss report difficulty hearing conversation on their impaired side, localizing sound, and understanding of speech in background noise. The bone-anchored cochlear stimulator (BAHA) (Entific, Gothenburg, Sweden) has been shown to improve performance in persons with unilateral severe-profound sensorineural loss (USNHL). The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of BAHA in sound localization for USNHL listeners.

Study Design: Prospective study of 12 USNHL subjects, 9 of whom received implants on the poorer hearing side. A control group of 10 normal hearing subjects were assessed for comparison. Localization with and without BAHA was assessed using an array of 8 speakers at head level separated by 45 degrees. Error analysis matrix was generated to evaluate the confusions, accuracy in response, and laterality judgment.

Results: The average accuracy of speaker localization was 16% in the unaided condition, with no improvement with BAHA use. Laterality judgment was poorer than 43% in both aided and nonaided conditions.

Conclusions: Patients with UNSNHL had poor sound localization and laterality judgment abilities that did not improve with BAHA use.

Skull Base. 2005 November; 15(4): 293–294.

Results of transsphenoidal surgery in a large series of patients with pituitary adenoma. Neurosurgery 2005;56:1222-1233


Objective: To report the efficacy and safety of microsurgical transsphenoidal surgery in a series of previously untreated patients with pituitary adenoma.

Methods: One thousand one hundred forty consecutive patients undergoing transsphenoidal resection of a pituitary adenoma at our department from January 1990 through December 2002 were included in our study. Postoperative results were classified uniformly during the period of the study. Patients were considered in remission of disease when strict hormonal and radiological criteria of cure were met.

Results: The most frequent tumor type was clinically nonfunctioning adenoma (NFPA) (33.2%), followed by growth hormone-secreting adenoma (28.1%), adrenocorticotropin-secreting adenoma (23.0%), prolactin-secreting adenoma (13.2%), and last, thyrotropin-secreting adenoma (2.5%). The patient population was 59.7% female and 40.3% male. Mean age was 43.0 ± 0.4 years. There were 788 macroadenomas (69.1%), and in 233 patients (20.4%), the tumor invaded one or both cavernous sinuses. The overall rate of early surgical success was achieved in 504 (66.1%) of the 762 patients with a hormone-active adenoma. Surgical outcome was better in patients with microadenomas than in patients with macroadenomas (78.9% and 55.5%, respectively), whereas tumors invading the cavernous sinus had a poorer outcome (7.4%). In patients with NFPA, no residual adenoma was present in 234 patients (64.8%). Normalization of visual defects occurred in 117 (40.5%) of the 289 patients with visual disturbances and improved in another 148 patients (51.2%). Three patients (0.3%) died as a consequence of surgery.

Conclusion: Transsphenoidal surgery is an effective and safe treatment for most patients with pituitary adenoma and could be considered the first-choice therapy in all cases except for prolactinomas responsive to dopamine agonists. Other treatment methods, such as radiotherapy, stereotactic radiosurgery, and medical therapy, play an important role in patients not cured by surgery.

Skull Base. 2005 November; 15(4): 294.

Staged stereotactic irradiation for acoustic neuroma. Neurosurgery 2005;56:1254-1263


Objective: Stereotactic radiosurgery has proven effective in the treatment of acoustic neuromas. Prior reports using single-stage radiosurgery consistently have shown excellent tumor control, but only up to a 50 to 73% likelihood of maintaining hearing at pretreatment levels. Staged, frame-based radiosurgery using 12-hour interfraction intervals previously has been shown by our group to achieve excellent tumor control while increasing the rate of hearing preservation at 2 years to 77%. The arrival of CyberKnife (Accuray, Inc., Sunnyvale, CA) image-guided radiosurgery now makes it more practical to treat acoustic neuroma with a staged approach. We hypothesize that such factors may further minimize injury of adjacent cranial nerves. In this retrospective study, we report our experience with staged radiosurgery for managing acoustic neuromas.

Methods: Since 1999, the CyberKnife has been used to treat more than 270 patients with acoustic neuroma at Stanford University. Sixty-one of these patients have now been followed up for a minimum of 36 months and form the basis for the present clinical investigation. Among the treated patients, the mean transverse tumor diameter was 18.5 mm, whereas the total marginal dose was either 18 or 21 Gy using three 6- or 7-Gy fractions. Audiograms and magnetic resonance imaging were obtained at 6-months intervals after treatment for the first 2 years and then annually thereafter.

Results: Of the 61 patients with a minimum of 36 months of follow-up (mean, 48 mo), 74% of patients with serviceable hearing (Gardner-Robinson Class 1-2) maintained serviceable hearing at the last follow-up, and no patient with at least some hearing before treatment lost all hearing on the treated side. Only one treated tumor (2%) progressed after radiosurgery; 29 (48%) of 61 decreased in size and 31 (50%) of the 61 tumors were stable. In no patients did new trigeminal dysfunction develop, nor did any patient experience permanent injury to their facial nerve; two patients experienced transient facial twitching that resolved in 3 to 5 months.

Conclusion: Although still preliminary, these results indicate that improved tumor dose homogeneity and a staged treatment regimen may improve hearing preservation in acoustic neuroma patients undergoing stereotactic radiosurgery.

Skull Base. 2005 November; 15(4): 294–295.

Vestibular schwannomas: Clinical results and quality of life after microsurgery or gamma knife radiosurgery. Neurosurgery 2005;56:927-935


Objective: The aim of the present study was to evaluate the overall treatment efficacy (tumor control, facial nerve function, complications) and quality of life for patients treated primarily for unilateral vestibular schwannomas of 30 mm or less, either by microsurgery or by gamma knife (GK) radiosurgery. The results for the two treatment groups are compared with each other, with main emphasis on the long-term quality of life.

Methods: This is a retrospective study of 189 consecutive patients, 86 treated by microsurgery and 103 by gamma knife. The mean observation time was 5.9 years. All patients had a magnetic resonance imaging scan and clinical evaluation performed toward the end of the study. To evaluate the quality of life, we used two standardized questionnaires, the Glasgow Benefit Inventory and Short-Form 36. The questionnaires were sent to the 168 living patients. The reply rate was 83.3%.

Results: A total of 79.8% of the patients in the microsurgery group and 94.8% of the GK patients had a good facial nerve function (House-Brackmann Grade 1-2). Hearing was usually lost after microsurgery, whereas the GK patients had preserved hearing, which often became reduced over the years after the treatment. The treatment efficacy, defined as no need for additional treatment, was similar for the two treatment modalities. Quality of life was reduced compared with normative data, being most reduced in the microsurgery group. Some of the quality of life questions showed an association with facial nerve function and sex.

Conclusion: Posttreatment facial nerve function, hearing, complication rates, and quality of life were all significantly in favor of GK radiosurgery.

Skull Base. 2005 November; 15(4): 295.

Acoustic schwannomas: Awareness of radiologic error will reduce unnecessary treatment. Otol Neurotol 2005;26:512-515


Objective: To measure the intra- and interobserver error in size estimation of acoustic schwannomas from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans by experienced radiologists to determine whether small amounts of tumor growth that may affect management (2 mm) could be reliably measured in clinical practice.

Design: Duplicated, blinded size estimation of acoustic neuromas (according to American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery guidelines, 1995) from MRI scans of patients with acoustic neuromas.

Setting: Tertiary referral teaching hospital and DGH.

Participants: Four radiologists (including 2 dedicated neuroradiologists) measuring positive MRI scans of 26 patients with an acoustic neuroma.

Main Outcome Measure: Intraradiologist and inter-radiologist repeatability coefficients in millimeters for the maximal tumor diameter in the anteroposterior (AP) axis, medial-longitudinal (ML) axis, and the square-root of the product of these two measurements. Repeatability coefficients give the 95% range within which the differences in repeated measurements lie.

Results: The intraradiologist repeatability for AP and ML measurements ranged from 1.51 to 6.03 mm and 2.01 to 3.83 mm, respectively. The repeatability of the square-root of the product ranged from 1.43 to 4.94 mm. The interradiologist repeatability was 6.48 mm and 7.46 mm for the AP and ML measurements, respectively, giving a repeatability of 3.65 mm for the square-root of the product.

Conclusion: The study indicates that, in routine clinical practice, differences in tumor size of the order of 2 mm cannot be reliably measured, even by the same radiologist. Thus, reported growth of acoustic tumors should be interpreted with caution, especially if this is the criterion for recommending treatment.

Skull Base. 2005 November; 15(4): 295–296.

Extended high-frequency audiometry in patients with acoustic trauma. Clin Otolaryngol 2005;30:249


Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine extended high-frequency (EHF) hearing in patients with acoustic trauma.

Design: A prospective, case-control study in a group of soldiers with acoustic trauma caused by shooting practice during basic training.

Setting: Tertiary referral centre.

Participants: A total of 39 young soldiers hospitalized for hearing loss and tinnitus following exposure to weapon impulse noise were studied. Conventional audiometry in the frequency range 0.25-8 kHz and EHF audiometry in the frequency range 9-20 kHz were performed, both on admittance and before discharge. Thirty healthy recruits of similar age and sex were used as controls.

Main Outcome Measures: Pure-tone threshold changes documented by conventional and EHF audiometry.

Results: The most significant differences in pure-tone thresholds on initial testing were found in the frequency range 0.25-11.2 kHz, and especially in the 4-8 kHz region. Reduction in thresholds across most frequencies was observed after treatment, although recovery was partial in most cases.

Conclusions: The EHF audiometry adds no significant additional information to conventional pure-tone audiometry in assessing and monitoring noise-induced hearing loss.

Skull Base. 2005 November; 15(4): 296.

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss as a revealing symptom of vestibular schwannoma. Acta Oto-Laryngol 2005;125:592-595


Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) is a frequent symptom of vestibular schwannoma (VS), often reveals small VSs and does not exhibit specific features. Therefore, every case of SSHL should be evaluated using systematic MRI to rule out VS in order to improve hearing and preservation facial nerve function. SSHL leads to the discovery of a VS in a small proportion of cases (2%). However, SSHL appears to be a more frequent occurrence in the history of patients with VS (3-23% in the literature), suggesting a large disparity in the evaluation of SSHL. A total of 139 consecutive unilateral VSs operated on between 2000 and 2002 were reviewed and analyzed regarding the prevalence, clinical and audiological features of SSHL and their relation to the size of the tumor. SSHL was observed in 20% of cases at some point in their VS history. The characteristics of SSHL were: (i) lack of a specific audiometric pattern, except that low-tone loss was rare; and (ii) a high rate of hearing recovery (50%). Tumor size was significantly smaller in SSHL-associated VSs compared to other VSs. In the former cases, 96% involved the internal auditory canal.

Skull Base. 2005 November; 15(4): 296–297.

Radial forearm free tissue transfer in the management of persistent cerebrospinal fluid leaks. Laryngoscope 2005;115:968-972


Objective: Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks can occur after head trauma or skull base surgery. Persistent or spontaneous leaks should be repaired, since they put patients at risk for serious intracranial complications. Although numerous repair methods have been successful, the occasional patient develops a persistent leak. We describe our experience with free tissue transfer for repair of recalcitrant CSF leaks.

Study Design: Retrospective chart review of patients undergoing free tissue transfer for repair of a CSF leak between November 1995 and October 2004. Setting was an academic, tertiary care referral center.

Methods: Twelve patients with persistent CSF leak were studied. Eleven of 12 patients had undergone a previous repair attempt ranging from endoscopic repair with fat graft to craniotomy and primary repair of the dural defect. All patients underwent radial forearm free tissue transfer.

Results: There were six female and six male patients. Average age was 52.7 years (range, 22-80 y). The most common presenting complaints were intracranial abscess, recurrent meningitis, or pneumocephalus (n = 9) and CSF otorrhea or rhinorrhea (n = 8). Cause was head trauma (n = 6), prior surgery (n = 4), cholesteatoma (n = 1), or meningoencephalocele (n = 1). Eleven of 12 patients failed prior procedures (range, 0-6 procedures; mean, 1.9). Ten flaps were placed in the anterior skull base and two were in the middle or posterior skull base. Radial forearm free tissue transfer resulted in sustained resolution of CSF leakage in all 12 patients.

Conclusions: Free tissue transfer is an efficacious option in the repair of recalcitrant CSF leaks

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