An acoustic neuroma, is a benign (non-cancerous), slow-growing tumor that can sometimes develop on one of the nerves leading from the brain to the inner ear, known as the vestibular nerve. It can cause several symptoms like hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), unsteadiness, vertigo or dizziness, and facial weakness or numbness in some cases. Acoustic neuromas normally develop in only one ear, but in rare instances can occur in both ears.
Treatment of Acoustic Neuroma
The decided-upon treatment depends on several factors, most importantly the size of the tumor and how quickly it is growing, but also the severity of your hearing loss. If the neuroma itself is small, asymptomatic, and doesn’t appear to be growing, our physicians may recommend monitoring it with hearing and imaging tests every 6 to 12 months. If the scans show that the tumor is indeed growing, surgical treatment or radiation therapy may be then conducted.
Two of the most common surgical procedures we may employ include translabyrinthine and retrosigmoid approaches:
- Translabyrinthine – In this approach, the actual surgery is performed in the middle ear, which allows a more optimal view of the tumor, and less risk to the brain itself. The goal here is to remove the benign tumor and prevent nerve damage in the future. Unfortunately, some hearing loss is going to happen after this procedure. For this reason, the translabyrinthine method is only applied to patients who have poor hearing or who have developed large tumors.
- Retrosigmoid – In the retrosigmoid method, the surgical procedure is performed through the skull, behind the ear, and a retraction of a portion of the brain (the cerebellum) is required. This approach is employed when the tumor is located adjacent to the brain stem, yet outside the internal auditory canal. This allows for some preservation of the patient’s hearing.
If you have received an acoustic neuroma diagnosis and would like to discuss your treatment options with our hearing and balance expert, Dr. Daniel Roberts, please call us (860) 493-1950 or visit our patient portal to request an appointment.