Objectives: Identification at time of diagnosis of those vestibular schwannomas that will not grow.
Design: Retrospective cohort study of consecutive patients diagnosed with a sporadic vestibular schwannoma that were entered in the wait-and-scan protocol.
Setting: Academic referral centre.
Participants: The study group contained 155 patients with a sporadic vestibular schwannoma first seen in the full 8-year period 2000-2007: continual wait-and-scan (n = 89) and initial wait-and-scan until intervention (n = 66).
Main outcome measures: Tumour growth, defined as more than 2 mm linear difference in any plane between the diagnostic MRI-scan and the last available scan, was related to clinical parameters at diagnosis: localisation of the tumour (solely intracanalicular versus cisternal extension), sudden sensorineural hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss longer than 2 years and vertigo/instability.
Results: Hearing loss longer than 2 years and an entirely intracanalicular localisation were associated with no tumour growth by univariate and multivariate Cox analysis. Combining both factors at time of diagnosis resulted in a group with low risk of growth (n = 36, median follow-up of 6.2 years) with a Hazard Ratio for growth of 0.37 (95% CI, 0.19-0.69). This subgroup is about 25% of the wait-and-scan population. Thirty-one percent showed growth, while in the remaining higher risk group of 119 patients 62% showed growth. For the growing schwannomas, the median time for growth becoming manifest is 1.9 years after diagnostic MRI.
Conclusions: In this study on vestibular schwannoma patients that start in a wait-and-scan protocol, about a quarter may be set apart having a low risk for growth. These patients at diagnosis combine a history of hearing loss longer than 2 years and a fully intracanalicular schwannoma. They seem to be not needed yearly MRI checks.