Acoustic Neuroma

A non-cancerous growth on the 8th cranial nerve is called an acoustic neuroma. This nerve is also known as vestibulocochlear nerve and it connects the brain and the inner ear. It has two parts. One is used for transmitting sounds and other sends information about balance from the inner ear to the brain. Acoustic neuromas, also known as, neurolemmomas or vestibular schwannomas grow very slow but for a longer period of time. Large tumors can press nerves that control sensation and facial expressions. If a tumor gets too big it can be fatal. The first symptoms are usually linked to changes caused by aging, so many people avoid going to the doctor. They are loss of hearing in one ear and tinnitus (ringing in the ear). Other symptoms may be: taste changes, confusion, headaches, problems with balance, vertigo, facial numbness, clumsiness and difficulty swallowing.

There are 2 types of acoustic neuroma. NF2 is an inherited disorder and a sporadic form that usually develops in both ears by the age 30. There are three different types of treatments.

  1. Observation. Because acoustic neuromas grow slowly, doctors may want to follow its progress so immediate treatment may be unnecessary. A doctor will need occasional MRI scans.
  2. Surgery is needed if a tumor gets too big. A doctor may remove just a part or the whole tumor.
  3. Radiation therapy is used in some cases.

Both procedures should cause tumor cells to die. A patient isn’t required to stay in the hospital after the surgery or after radiation therapy. In order to select the right treatment, a doctor must consider size of the tumor, a patient’s age, the severity of symptoms and other medical conditions.



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