Acoustic Neuroma, also called vestibular schwannoma is a slow growing benign (non-cancerous) tumor that forms in the inner ear at the vestibular cochlear nerve. This nerve connects the ear to the brain, which allows us to hear and convert sounds into messages that the brain can absorb. These types of brain tumors can put pressure on surrounding healthy brain tissue and cause problems with hearing, balance, and facial function.
It’s estimated that two out of 100,000 people ages 30 to 60 develop acoustic neuroma, which makes this condition incredibly rare. Acoustic neuroma treatments vary depending on the size of the tumor. The larger the tumor, generally the more medical problems it creates. Tumors are described as small (less than 1.5 cm), medium (between 1.5 cm and 2.5 cm) and large (2.5 cm or larger).
Typical symptoms of acoustic neuroma involve unilateral hearing loss (hearing loss affecting one ear), tinnitus (buzzing or ringing in the ear), feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear, the sensation of vertigo or issues with balance, extreme headaches caused by intracranial pressure, and facial pain, numbness, or paralysis.
Some acoustic neuromas do not require medical intervention because of their small size, while larger tumors typically require surgery and radiation therapy. The oldest approach to removing an acoustic neuroma is through microsurgery, and is typically reserved for individuals who have already lost the ability to preserve hearing in the affected ear. Radiation is a second option for treating these types of tumors, but is typically reserved for patients over 50 years of age that have other health problems present. General radiation therapy causes damage to healthy cells in the body and can have devastating side effects.
The newest treatment option for acoustic neuroma is a form of radiosurgery that requires absolutely no incisions using new technology called CyberKnife®. Radiosurgery techniques can stop tumors from growing by using high-dose exact precision radiation treatment. Patients treated by CyberKnife® technology experience minimal to no side effects, and receive treatment on an out-patient basis. After patients undergo radiosurgery, the acoustic neuroma is closely monitored to confirm growth has stopped or that the tumor has begun to shrink.
Treatment for Acoustic Neuroma in Greater Princeton Area
To learn more about CyberKnife radiosurgery and treatments we offer for brain tumors, or to schedule an appointment, feel free to fill out our convenient contact form or call us directly at (609) 890-3400. Our offices are located in Hamilton, NJ, serving the greater Princeton area. Dr. Lipani looks forward to hearing from you.