The nerve that links your inner ear to your brain can develop benign (noncancerous) tumours called acoustic neuromas.
Acoustic neuromas occasionally don’t require immediate attention and can be watched over by a medical specialist.
Other times, medical professionals could advise surgery or radiation therapy as treatments.
There are no recognized natural or home therapies for either treating or preventing this illness.
Vestibular schwannomas are another name for acoustic neuromas.
✅ A very big or expanding auditory neuroma can lead to potentially serious consequences that can be avoided with surgery and radiation therapy.
✅ In certain instances, symptoms could become better while hearing is still possible.
✅ However, there are hazards associated with these treatments, which a medical practitioner can explain to you.
✅ Complications that could arise include: hearing loss,Tinnitus, or issues with your balance, and nerve damage
✅ Monitoring is crucial following treatment. For instance, if you have radiation therapy, a tumour may start to recur.
✅ Your doctor will therefore continue ordering routine scans to check on the tumour.
✅ At the time of diagnosis, some acoustic neuromas won’t require any therapy.
✅ It’s crucial to keep an eye out for any changes in both the tumor’s condition and your symptoms.
✅ Your healthcare provider can help you make the best treatment decision for you.
According to the National Cancer Institute, schwannomas are a type of tumour that develops on the protective sheath (coating) of nerve cells called Schwann cells. Approximately 8% of all tumours seen in the skull are schwannomas.
Continue reading to discover the possible acoustic neuroma treatments and when each is advised.
Options for acoustic neuroma treatment
In the United States, 3,000 acoustic neuromas are identified annually. Typically benign and not life threatening, these tumors. However, it’s still feasible that they will require early care to prevent complications.
The extent of hearing loss in the affected ear, if it affects other nerves or tissues in the brain, your age and general health, your preferences, and the size, location, and growth rate of the tumour are all important considerations when choosing a course of therapy.
When discussing potential therapies, a medical expert will inform you of the advantages and disadvantages of each choice to assist you in making the best choice for your health. Here is how medical professionals typically treat acoustic neuromas.
Food for thought
It is conceivable for a tumour to develop so slowly that it can be watched carefully and never need to be treated. If your acoustic neuroma is small, not growing, and causes no or few symptoms, a doctor may advise surveillance.
MRI scans are routinely ordered by a medical expert, typically every 6 to 12 months. This enables the physician to closely watch for indicators of tumour progression. Your doctor will go over other treatment choices with you if your symptoms get worse or if scans reveal the tumour is expanding.
In a 2018 research of persons with tiny acoustic neuromas, it was discovered that after a median follow-up of 25 months, 15 out of 61 patients (24.6%) changed from observation to another type of treatment.
Most frequently, this was a result of the tumour expanding.
A surgeon will remove the tumour entirely or in part as part of this treatment. For instance, if a tiny tumour is growing or a large tumour is producing troubling symptoms, you might need surgery.
The following are the three surgical methods for acoustic neuromas:
- Retrosigmoid. In this method, a surgical incision is made in the skin behind the ear, and the tumour is removed via it. For the most part, the retrosigmoid method preserves hearing the best.
- The middle cerebral fossa. In this method, the surgeon makes an incision above the ear and at the side of the head via which the tumour is removed. This is another effective strategy for protecting hearing.
- Translabyrinthine. Using this method, a surgeon would cut a hole in the tumour to gain access to the inner ear canal. It is mostly utilised by those who have partial or complete hearing loss in the afflicted ear.
Smaller tumours are typically easier to remove while still preserving some hearing. When these tumours are surgically removed, other symptoms frequently get better as well.
Larger tumours are more challenging since they frequently affect the nerves and tissues in the area. During removal, these nerves and tissues could sustain damage that worsens some symptoms. In this case, a medical practitioner might advise partial tumour removal rather than total removal.
Large tumours could also need a combination of care from a neurotologist and a neurosurgeon.
According to 2018 research, radiation therapy, often known as radiosurgery, is a treatment used to decrease the tumour or slow its growth. It has a strong correlation with high hearing preservation rates.
Technically, this form of treatment is not surgery. That’s because it doesn’t require an incision and is noninvasive. Furthermore, with radiation therapy, the majority of individuals don’t need anesthesia.
Small or medium-sized tumours may benefit from radiosurgery, according to a medical practitioner. The elderly, persons with various health issues, those who have acoustic neuromas in both ears, those who can only hear out of one ear because of an acoustic neuroma, and those who can only hear out of one ear are all frequently advised to get it.
Stereotactic radiosurgery is one of the main types of radiosurgery (SRS). SRS can be carried out using a variety of systems and technologies, including Gamma Knife, CyberKnife, and Trilogy.
SRS is typically carried out by a radiation oncologist as well as an otolaryngologist. Because they are experts in issues relating to the ear, nose, and throat, otolaryngologists are frequently referred to as ENTs.
These technologies will be used by a medical expert to deliver radiation to the tumour during this acoustic neuroma therapy. Targeting tumour cells’ DNA with extreme precision while avoiding adjacent tissues is the aim.
One or more SRS sessions may be necessary.
You might not have any symptoms if your acoustic neuroma is tiny. If you do experience symptoms, research from 2021 suggests they could involve any of the following in the impacted ear:
- Unable to hear
- balance issues
- ringing in the ears
- a feeling of fullness in the ear
- dizziness or vertigo;
Acoustic neuromas can start to pressure neighboring nerves that supply the face, mouth, and throat as they get larger. This might result in symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, facial weakness, tingling or numbness in the face or tongue, and facial twitching (dysphagia)
Cerebrospinal fluid flow may be obstructed by extremely big acoustic neuromas (CSF). A dangerous condition known as hydrocephalus may result from this.
CSF accumulates in hydrocephalus, which raises the pressure inside the skull. It causes symptoms such as headaches, nausea or vomiting, ataxia, decreased motor coordination, disorientation or changed mental status.
When should I go and visit my doctor?
It’s crucial that you get medical attention as soon as you have symptoms like hearing loss, tinnitus, or vertigo. While your symptoms might not be brought on by an acoustic neuroma, they might be the result of another illness that requires medical attention.
If you do have an acoustic neuroma, getting diagnosed and treated right away can benefit your prognosis. This can avoid potentially harmful side effects including hydrocephalus and lifelong hearing loss.
A healthcare practitioner will enquire about your medical history and conduct a physical examination if you exhibit signs of an acoustic neuroma. They’ll check your balance and look at your ears during this test.
They will also do an audiometry, or hearing test. Your capacity to hear different tones or noises will be tested on this exam.
Imaging can be used to confirm a diagnosis of an acoustic neuroma by a medical expert. Typically, they may request an MRI scan, which can produce images of the tumour and reveal its precise location to the doctor. The doctor might substitute a CT scan in some situations.