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Translabyrinthine approach

Although the translabyrinthine approach was described by Panse in 1904 and first used to resect a cerebellopontine angle tumor by Quix in 1912, it was not until House published 47 resections with no mortalities in 1964 that the approach was truly popularized 1).

Since that time it has been well described in the literature as a useful approach for resection of vestibular schwannomas in cases where hearing preservation is not a concern. Additionally Morrison and King have described a modified use of this approach in combination with a transtentorial component for the resection of vestibular schwannomas and other lesions of the cerebellopontine angle and proximate anatomy 2).

Surgical series of translabyrinthine resections often include cerebellopontine angle meningiomas of the as well as the internal acoustic meatus, schwannomas of the facial and trigeminal nerves, and cholesteatomas, neurinomas, and chordomas – illustrating the multiple uses of this approach 3).

With the help of an endoscope, Sun et al exposed the internal auditory canal and cerebellopontine through a translabyrinthine approach and the inferior colliculus through a keyhole subtemporal approach. This double approach can be combined to expose the internal auditory canal and cerebellopontine angle and inferior colliculus satisfactorily in the same surgical setting. This combined approach can avoid retraction of the cerebellum and reduce serious adverse events and complications 4).

Case series


Five hundred consecutive patients undergoing surgery for vestibular schwannoma via the translabyrinthine approach (excluding neurofibromatosis type 2) under the senior author, with a minimum of 5 years follow-up, were included.

QOL was assessed using the Short Form 36 (SF-36) questionnaire and a disease-specific survey to assess patients' subjective outcomes.

The SF-36 scores in this group were significantly lower than the general UK population, though 24% of respondents reported a subjective improvement in overall QOL. Tumors larger than 4 cm were related to a reduced SF-36 total mental component score (p = 0.037). Increased age at time of surgery correlated with a reduced physical component of QOL (correlation coefficient = -0.26) and an improved mental component (correlation coefficient = 0.26). Subjective reports of postoperative symptoms and return to work, driving and social activities were similar to other published studies. 35% of patients reported vivid dreams or nightmares following surgery; the first reported incidence of this phenomenon in a large group of vestibular schwannoma patients.

Generic measures of QOL in patients following translabyrinthine surgery for vestibular schwannoma do not always match subjective reports, reflecting the complexity of QOL assessment and the range of outcomes in this group. Increased time since surgery appears to be associated with an improvement in mental health 5).


A study included 6 patients with internal auditory canal cavernous hemangioma. All patients presented with sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus, and 2 also suffered from vertigo. Five patients reported a history of hemifacial spasm or facial palsy: 3 had progressive facial weakness, 1 had a hemispasm, and 1 had a history of recovery from sudden facial paresis. All patients underwent CT and MRI to rule out intracanalicular vestibular schwannomas and facial nerve neuromas. Five patients had their tumors surgically removed, while 1 patient, who did not have facial problems, was followed up with a wait-and-scan approach.

All patients had a presurgical diagnosis of cavernous hemangioma of the IAC, which was confirmed pathologically in the 5 patients who underwent surgical removal of the tumor. The translabyrinthine approach was used to remove the tumor in 4 patients, while the middle cranial fossa approach was used in the 1 patient who still had functional hearing. Tumors adhered to cranial nerves VII and/or VIII and were difficult to dissect from nerve sheaths during surgeries. Complete hearing loss occurred in all 5 patients. In 3 patients, the facial nerve could not be separated from the tumor, and primary end-to-end anastomosis was performed. Intact facial nerve preservation was achieved in 2 patients. Patients were followed up for at least 1 year after treatment, and MRI showed no evidence of tumor regrowth. All patients experienced some level of recovery in facial nerve function.

Cavernous hemangioma of the IAC can be diagnosed preoperatively through analysis of clinical features and neuroimaging. Early surgical intervention may preserve the functional integrity of the facial nerve and provide a better outcome after nerve reconstruction. However, preservation of functional hearing may not be achieved, even with the retrosigmoid or middle cranial fossa approaches. The translabyrinthine approach seems to be the most appropriate approach overall, as the facial nerve can be easily located and reconstructed 6).


A total of 417 patients with 420 tumors were analyzed, 209 female (50.1%) and 208 male (49.9%). Mean age at diagnosis was 49.8±13.2 years. The majority of the tumors were resected through a translabyrinthine approach (80.2%). Total tumor removal was achieved in 411 tumors (98.3%), and anatomic preservation of facial nerve in 404 (96.2%). Definitive facial nerve outcome was House-Brackmann grade I and II in 69.9%, and was significantly better in tumors under 20mm. Surgical complications included cerebrospinal fluid leakage in 3 patients (0.7%) and retroauricular subcutaneous collection in 16 (3.8%), 5 cases of meningitis (1.2%), 4 patients with intracraneal bleeding (0.9%), and death in 3 patients (0.7%).

Surgery is the treatment of choice for vestibular schwannoma in the majority of patients. In our experience, the complication rate is very low and tumor size is the main factor influencing postoperative facial nerve function 7).


52 patients (2004-2013), outcomes included extent of resection, postoperative hearing, and facial nerve function. Extent of resection defined as gross total, near total, or subtotal were 7 (39%), 3 (17%), and 8 (44%) in 18 patients after retrosigmoid approaches, respectively, and 10 (29.5%), 9 (26.5%), and 15 (44%) for 34 patients after translabyrinthine approaches, respectively.

Hearing was preserved in 1 (20%) of 5 gross total, 0 of 2 near-total, and 1 (33%) of 3 subtotal resections. Good long-term facial nerve function (House-Brackmann grades of I and II) was achieved in 16 of 17 gross total (94%), 11 of 12 near-total (92%), and 21 of 23 subtotal (91%) resections. Long-term tumor control was 100% for gross total, 92% for near-total, and 83% for subtotal resections. Postoperative radiation therapy was delivered to 9 subtotal resection patients and 1 near-total resection patient. Follow-up averaged 33 months.

The findings support facial nerve preservation surgery in becoming the new standard for acoustic neuroma treatment. Maximizing resection and close postoperative radiographic follow-up enable early identification of tumors that will progress to radiosurgical treatment. This sequential approach can lead to combined optimal facial nerve function and effective tumor control rates 8).


A retrospective study of 1865 patients who underwent VS excision through the enlarged translabyrinthine approach between 1987 and 2009. Mean age was 50.39 years. Mean tumor size was 1.8 cm. Median follow-up was 5.7 years.

Total removal was achieved in 92.33% of cases; 143 patients had incomplete resection with evidence of regrowth in 8. In the 1742 previously untreated patients, anatomic preservation of facial nerve was achieved in 1661 cases (95.35%), and House-Brackmann grade I or II was reached in 1047 patients (59.87%). Facial nerve outcome was significantly better in tumors ≤ 20 mm. Surgical complications included cerebrospinal fluid leakage in 0.85%, meningitis in 0.10%, intracranial bleeding in 0.80%, non–VII/VIII cranial nerve palsy in 0.96%, cerebellar ataxia in 0.69%, and death in 0.10%. The technical modifications that evolved with increasing experience are described.

The enlarged translabyrinthine approach is a safe and effective approach for the removal of VS. The complication rate is very low and tumor size is still the main factor influencing postoperative facial nerve function with a cutoff point at around 20 mm 9).


123 patients who underwent translabyrinthine removal of a large vestibular schwannoma (>4 cm in the cerebellopontine angle, stage IV). All surgical and medical complications and facial function were reviewed, with a 1-year follow-up.

Mortality during the first year was 0.8% (one case of infarct of the anterior inferior cerebellar artery, fatal after 8 months). In all, 4.9% of patients underwent a second surgery (for delayed hemorrhage or cerebrospinal fluid leak) during the first months after removal of a large vestibular schwannoma; 3.2% of patients experienced definitive neurologic complications (one death, one cerebellar disturbance, and two cases of 10th cranial nerve palsy) 10).


Tong MC, Lam JM, Hu BH, Sanna M. [Clinical experience in 36 cases of using of the extended translabyrinthine technique for the treatment of large acoustic neuromas]. Zhonghua Er Bi Yan Hou Tou Jing Wai Ke Za Zhi. 2005 Sep;40(9):705-7. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 16335411 11)

Doig JA. Surgical treatment of acoustic neuroma. The translabyrinthine approach. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine. 1970;63:775
Morrison AW, King TT. Experiences with a translabyrinthine-transtentorial approach to the cerebellopontine angle. 1973
Morrison AW. Translabyrinthine surgical approach to the internal acoustic meatus. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 1978;71:269.
Sun JQ, Han DM, Li YX, Gong SS, Zan HR, Wang T. Combined endoscope-assisted translabyrinthine subtemporal keyhole approach for vestibular Schwannoma and auditory midbrain implantation: Cadaveric study. Acta Otolaryngol. 2010 Oct;130(10):1125-9. doi: 10.3109/00016481003699674. PubMed PMID: 20367538.
Broomfield SJ, Mandavia AK, Nicholson JS, Mahmoud O, King AT, Rutherford SA, Ramsden RT. Long-term Quality of Life Following Vestibular Schwannoma Excision Via the Translabyrinthine Approach. Otol Neurotol. 2017 Sep;38(8):1165-1173. doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000001507. PubMed PMID: 28806327.
Zhu WD, Huang Q, Li XY, Chen HS, Wang ZY, Wu H. Diagnosis and treatment of cavernous hemangioma of the internal auditory canal. J Neurosurg. 2016 Mar;124(3):639-46. doi: 10.3171/2015.3.JNS142785. Epub 2015 Sep 25. PubMed PMID: 26406793.
Arístegui Ruiz MÁ, González-Orús Álvarez-Morujo RJ, Oviedo CM, Ruiz-Juretschke F, García Leal R, Scola Yurrita B. Surgical treatment of vestibular schwannoma. Review of 420 cases. Acta Otorrinolaringol Esp. 2015 Dec 8. pii: S0001-6519(15)00145-4. doi: 10.1016/j.otorri.2015.09.003. [Epub ahead of print] English, Spanish. PubMed PMID: 26679233.
Anaizi AN, Gantwerker EA, Pensak ML, Theodosopoulos PV. Facial nerve preservation surgery for koos grade 3 and 4 vestibular schwannomas. Neurosurgery. 2014 Dec;75(6):671-5; discussion 676-7; quiz 677. doi: 10.1227/NEU.0000000000000547. PubMed PMID: 25181431.
Ben Ammar M, Piccirillo E, Topsakal V, Taibah A, Sanna M. Surgical results and technical refinements in translabyrinthine excision of vestibular schwannomas: the Gruppo Otologico experience. Neurosurgery. 2012 Jun;70(6):1481-91; discussion 1491. doi: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e31824c010f. PubMed PMID: 22270232.
Charpiot A, Tringali S, Zaouche S, Ferber-Viart C, Dubreuil C. Perioperative complications after translabyrinthine removal of large or giant vestibular schwannoma: Outcomes for 123 patients. Acta Otolaryngol. 2010 Nov;130(11):1249-55. doi: 10.3109/00016481003762316. PubMed PMID: 20443757.
Tong MC, Lam JM, Hu BH, Sanna M. [Clinical experience in 36 cases of using of the extended translabyrinthine technique for the treatment of large acoustic neuromas]. Zhonghua Er Bi Yan Hou Tou Jing Wai Ke Za Zhi. 2005 Sep;40(9):705-7. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 16335411.
translabyrinthine_approach.txt · Last modified: 2017/08/15 19:14 by administrador