Importance: Vestibular schwannomas have long been treated as a homogeneous entity. Clinical symptoms at presentation may help elucidate the underlaying pathophysiologic characteristics of tumor subtypes. Describing the heterogeneity of these benign tumors may assist in predicting clinical outcomes associated with their treatment. Objective: To create a tumor staging system that incorporates symptoms at presentation and tumor size to predict severe surgical complications. Design, Setting, and Participants: A retrospective cohort of patients at a single-center tertiary referral center from January 1, 1998, to October 13, 2020, was studied. Patients diagnosed with sporadic vestibular schwannoma surgically treated at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, were included. Main Outcomes and Measures: Severe surgical complications within 30 days of surgery as determined by the Clavien-Dindo classification system. Patients experiencing a complication of grade 3 or above were determined to have a severe complication. Results: Of 185 patients evaluated, 40 (22%) had severe postoperative complications. Twenty of the 40 patients (50%) were women; mean (SD) age was 46 (13) years. Patients with severe complications were more likely to have large tumors (>2.5 cm in largest diameter), vestibular symptoms, and recent hearing loss at presentation. Using conjunctive consolidation, a 4-stage clinical severity staging system that incorporates clinical symptoms and tumor size at presentation was created to predict severe complications. The clinical severity staging system demonstrated an improvement in the ability to discriminate severe complications (C index, 0.754; 95% CI, 0.67-0.84) from a model of tumor size alone (C index, 0.706; 95% CI 0.62-0.79). Conclusions and Relevance: This cohort study found that, among patients with vestibular schwannoma, symptoms present at initial evaluation, in addition to tumor size, served as predictors of severe postoperative complications. A new clinical severity staging system incorporating symptoms at presentation can be helpful for clinicians to identify patients at high risk for severe postoperative complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)991-998
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


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