Objective: Trigeminal neuromas are rare tumours that may involve any part of the Vth nerve complex, including extracranial peripheral divisions of the nerve. A series of eight patients with intracranial trigeminal neuromas who underwent surgical management are presented.
Methods: The hospital records and radiological images were reviewed with regard to clinical presentation, surgical approach, operative findings, peri-operative morbidity and neurological outcome, and percentage of tumour recurrence.
Results: The principal presenting symptoms were those of involvement of the trigeminal nerve with sensory impairment in one or more of the three divisions. Tumour location was the prime determinant of surgical approach. Lateral skull base approaches were used as they are considered to be superior for identifying tumour origin, extension, and relationship to surrounding structures. Total excision of the tumour was carried out in three of the eight patients. In the remaining five patients some tumour was left purposely in order to minimize neurological deficit and optimize post-operative quality of life. There was no peri-operative mortality or major morbidity in our series. Five patients experienced symptomatic tumour recurrence and revision surgery was performed.
Conclusion: Management of trigeminal neuromas is complex and requires a multidisciplinary approach. Pre-operative surgical planning allows tumour removal with preservation of important neural structures in the majority of cases. For large tumours occupying both the middle and posterior cranial fossae, the retrosigmoid/retrolabyrinthine/middle cranial fossa approach provides good exposure and results in minimal brain retraction. A Fisch type C approach is necessary for the largest tumours. Long-term follow up with interval imaging is mandatory to exclude long-term tumour recurrence.