An acoustic neuroma sounds like a scary diagnosis, but this slow-growing, noncancerous tumor can usually be successfully treated. Also called a vestibular schwannoma, the neuroma grows on the main nerve that leads from your inner ear to your brain. This nerve has branches that directly affect your balance and hearing.
Although an acoustic neuroma is not cancerous, it can cause disturbing symptoms as the pressure on the vestibular nerve can lead to hearing loss, unsteadiness, and ringing in the ears.
An acoustic neuroma that’s small, growing extremely slowly, or doesn’t cause symptoms may not need any treatment. Monitoring the tumor can reveal any changes that might require alterations to your treatment plan.
An aggressive neuroma or one that is growing rapidly may require surgery from an expert like Dr. Elliott H. Rose of The Aesthetic Surgery Center. Here’s what to consider when weighing your treatment options.
Concerning symptoms of an acoustic neuroma
Acoustic neuromas typically grow very slowly or not at all. Because of their slow development, it’s easy to miss symptoms. A neuroma that causes no symptoms doesn’t usually need treatment.
However, if the tumor grows, you may start to experience severe symptoms that include:
- Hearing loss
- Loss of balance
- Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears
- Facial numbness
- Facial weakness
It’s very rare, but an acoustic neuroma can grow rapidly, compress the brain stem, and be life-threatening.
Factors affecting your treatment plan
Treatment options depend on several factors, particularly:
- The size and trajectory of the tumor’s growth
- The severity of your symptoms
- Your overall health
In many cases, your doctor will recommend a watch-and-wait approach. Regular monitoring ensures the acoustic neuroma is not endangering important nerve fibers or growing at an unusual pace.
Surgery for an acoustic neuroma
Your doctor may refer you to Dr. Rose for surgery if your tumor continues to grow or appears very large on imaging tests. If the acoustic neuroma causes problematic symptoms, surgery is also a possible solution.
When Dr. Rose performs surgery to remove an acoustic neuroma, he aims to remove the entire growth and preserve the facial nerve to prevent facial paralysis. In some cases, the neuroma may be too close to important anatomy or parts of the brain, so it won’t be removed in its entirety.
While you’re under general anesthesia, Dr. Rose removes the tumor through the inner ear or through a window in your skull. He uses his expertise and skill to avoid irritating or damaging the facial nerves during the operation.
When surgery is not an appropriate solution due your health or the location of the acoustic neuroma, radiation therapy is another possible option. Radiation therapy can halt growth of the tumor and even shrink it.
If you’ve been diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, reach out to The Aesthetic Surgery Center to learn more about surgery and whether it’s the right treatment option for you. Call our office today or use the online tool to set up a consultation.