Acoustic neuroma is a noncancerous and usually slow-growing tumor that develops on the main nerve connecting your inner ear to your brain. Parts of this nerve directly affect your balance and hearing capabilities. Pressure build-up from an acoustic neuroma can lead to hearing loss, ringing, and balance disorders. In rare circumstances, the tumor may rapidly grow, becoming large enough to press against the brain and inhibit vital brain functions.
In the Neuro-Oncology Department at the University of Illinois, our team specializes in the diagnoses, treatment, and removal of rare and complex tumors and growths. Our team has years of expertise in performing very specialized surgical and non-surgical treatment methods for a wide range of conditions and tumors. Our primary goal is to help our patients achieve the best possible outcome for their unique condition. Treatments for acoustic neuroma include routine monitoring, radiation therapy, and surgical removal.
Symptoms of Acoustic Neuroma
Signs and symptoms are often subtle and occur gradually over years. They are most commonly discovered due to the effects the tumor has on the hearing and balance nerves. Common signs and symptoms of acoustic neuroma include:
- Hearing loss on one side
- Ringing (tinnitus) in the affected ear
- Loss of balance
- Dizziness (vertigo)
- Facial numbness
Large tumors may grow to a point that places pressure on your brainstem, inhibiting the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid between your brain and spinal cord. This results in CSF building up in your head, increasing intracranial pressure.
Acoustic Neuroma Treatment Methods
Acoustic neuroma treatment will vary depending on the size, location, and growth rate of the tumor. To treat acoustic neuroma, our team of experts may suggest one or more of the following treatment methods: monitoring, surgery, or radiation therapy.
If you have a small acoustic neuroma that isn’t growing or is growing slowly and is causing you little-to-no harm, our specialists may decide the best course of action is to monitor it over time. This is more likely if you’re an older adult that might have a difficult time recovering from surgery
It is recommended that you have regular imaging and hearing tests, every six to 12 months, to determine whether or not the tumor is growing and how quickly.
You may need surgery to remove an acoustic neuroma. Your surgeon may use one of several techniques for removing an acoustic neuroma, depending on the size of your tumor, symptom status, and other health factors.
Surgery is performed under general anesthesia and involves removing the tumor through the inner ear, or in advanced cases, a craniotomy.
Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) is a treatment method that focuses high doses of radiation at a tumor or the target while limiting the exposure of radiation to the surrounding normal tissue. Though it is called “surgery”, no knife or scalpel is used. The treatment may be useful for tumors that are in places where conventional surgery would harm essential tissue, for example, in the brain or spinal cord, or when a patient’s condition does not permit conventional surgery.
Acoustic Neuroma Treatment at the University of Illinois, Chicago
If you are experiencing symptoms associated with acoustic neuroma or have been diagnosed and are looking for a team of experts to provide unparalleled treatment, reach out to the University of Illinois Neuro-Oncology Department today.