An acoustic neuroma is a slow-growing, benign (non-cancerous) tumor that develops on the vestibular nerve, one of the nerves leading from the brain to the inner ear. An acoustic neuroma can hearing loss, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), unsteadiness, vertigo, dizziness, and occasionally facial weakness or numbness. Acoustic neuromas typically present in only one ear, but can occur in both ears in rare disorders.
The treatment for acoustic neuroma depends on a number of factors, including the size and growth rate of your tumor and the severity of your hearing loss. If your acoustic neuroma is small, not growing, and asymptomatic, we may recommend monitoring it with imaging and hearing tests every six to 12 months. If the scans show the tumor is growing, surgical treatment or radiation therapy may be indicated.
The two most common surgical techniques we employ include translabyrinthine and retrosigmoid approaches:
Translabyrinthine - In a translabyrinthine approach, surgery is performed through the inner ear. This approach provides a good view of the tumor, with less risk to the brain itself. The goal of this procedure is to remove the tumor and preserve future nerve damage. Hearing loss is inevitable after this procedure. For this reason, the translabyrinthine approach is often indicated in patients who have poor hearing or have large tumors.
Retrosigmoid - In the retrosigmoid approach, surgery is performed through the skull behind the ear and retraction of a portion of the brain (the cerebellum) is required. The retrosigmoid approach is used when the tumor is located adjacent the brain stem and mostly outside the internal auditory canal. The retrosigmoid approach allows for preservation of hearing.
If you have been diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma and would like to discuss your treatment options with Dr. Marc Eisen, our hearing and balance expert, please call (860) 493-1950 or visit our patient portal to request an appointment.