Acoustic Neuroma

Acoustic Neuroma Awareness Month & Ribbon
Month May
Ribbon Gray Color

 

An acoustic neuroma is growth of noncancerous cells in the nerve that connects the internal part of the ear with the brain. This nerve is also called as vestibulocochlear nerve and acoustic neuroma often called as vestibular schwannomas or neurolemmomas. Acoustic neuroma is of two types: a sporadic form and another form related with a disorder called neurofibromatosis type II (NF2).

Generally, acoustic neuroma does not spread into the brain, but the tumor may push on it while growing. The growth of these cells is slow. However, over the years if they become large enough, they can press on other cranial nerves in close proximity and also affect brain stem or cerebellum.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of acoustic neuroma at initial stage are quite subtle. So you may think it to be signs of aging or any other normal problem. Hence, it may be diagnosed a little late. The symptoms of acoustic neuroma are as follows:

  • Continuing loss of hearing
  • Sensation of fullness inside the ear
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Balancing problem
  • Unsteady walk
  • Vertigo
  • Lack of feeling in face
  • Changes in taste
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Head ache
  • Confusion
  • Clumsiness

It is an immediate requirement for you to consult with the doctor if you are experiencing the above symptoms of which mental confusion and clumsiness can cause serious problems.

Causes of Acoustic Neuroma:

  • Most of acoustic neuroma patients are diagnosed with sporadic form. Though what causes this disorder is not yet certain, one known reason is exposure to radiation.
  • Second type of acoustic neuroma i.e. NF2 is an inherited problem. It is rare and may occur in both the ears by the age of 30.

Treatment

Treatment options of acoustic neuroma include:

  • Observation - The tumor may be non-cancerous and grows slowly, its growth is monitored continuously and treatment decision is taken when required.
  • Surgery – There are three types of surgeries by which acoustic neuroma are removed. Depending on the size of the tumor, its effect on patient’s health, the type of surgery is decided.
  • Radiation therapy- Two types of radiation therapy is conducted to control growth of acoustic neuroma. High dose during fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy (FSR) and low dose during stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) as per your requirement.
  • Clinical trial: New methods of treatment are experimented to examine their effectiveness on the recovery of a patient.

Tests and Procedures

Tests helpful in detecting acoustic neuroma are:

  • Magnetic resonance Tomography (MRT).
  • Audiology- hearing test
  • Electronystagmography- test of balance and symmetry
  • Brainstem auditory evoked response- checking of hearing and brainstem function

Treatment cost of Acoustic Neuroma:

You may have to spend approximately $2000 towards treatment of acoustic neuroma. In USA this cost includes patient’s stay, food, doctor fee, medication and nursing and follow up care. However, the total figure varies from one patient to another and one place to another.

Preventive Measures

Acoustic neuroma patients can be benefitted by practicing following things:

  • Mind, body exercises such as Pilates or Tai Chi can help in handling balancing problems.
  • You must exercise regularly to keep facial nerves active and fit.

Side Effects of Acoustic Neuroma Treatment Methods:

Treatment options of acoustic neuroma leave various side effects that may be permanent. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • Hearing loss
  • Dizziness
  • Facial weakness
  • Head ache
  • Eye dryness
  • Ringing ear (tinnitus)