Acoustic Neuroma - Health Center

Acoustic Neuroma

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 13 October 2015 - 11:52 am IST

Acoustic Neuroma

Acoustic Neuroma : Basic Overview

Acoustic Neuroma is a noncancerous or a benign tumour which develops around the main nerve which leads from the inner ear to the brain. Since the branches of this nerve are responsible for maintaining the balance of the body and are also responsible for the hearing and maintenance of the pressure, this condition can lead to loss of hearing, ringing sensation in the ear as well as unsteadiness.

Acoustic Neuroma is also known as Vestibular Schwannoma. This is one of the uncommon reasons for hearing loss. Acoustic Neuroma grows gradually and can become quite large in size. In the later stages, the disease can press against the brain and can interfere with the working of the vital organs.

With regular monitoring, radiation as well as surgical removal, Acoustic Neuroma can be healed completely. 

Acoustic Neuroma: Causes

Acoustic Nueroma is the presence of brain tumours on the main nerve which lead from the inner ear to the brain. These nerves lead to the eighth cranial nerve. One of the major reasons for the occurrence of Acoustic Neuroma is the malfunctioning gene on the Chromosome 22. This gene is known to produce a protein which helps to control the formation of the Schwann Cells, which cover the nerves. The major reason for the occurrence of this gene malfunction is not known.

This faulty gene can be inherited in the case of neurofibromatosis type 22, a rare disorder which is known to induce the growth of tumours on both the sides of the head – leading to imbalance of the body balance. 

Signs and Symptoms of Acoustic Neuroma:

The signs and symptoms of Acoustic Neuroma can occur due to the formation of tumours on the nerves which lead from the inner ear to the brain. As the tumours grow, the signs and symptoms become very pronounced. The major signs of the condition are as follows:

  •       Loss of hearing – gradual and sudden in some cases
  •       Ringing sensation or Tinnitus in the affected ear
  •       Unsteadiness and loss of balance
  •       Dizziness and a feeling of vertigo
  •       Numbness and weakness

In some of the rarer cases, the Neuroma grows to a large size in order to threaten the life of the affected person.

It is recommended to visit a doctor in case you have been experiencing any hearing loss or ringing sensation in the ear. Early diagnosis of the condition can help the doctors to prevent the further growth of the tumour. This can prevent the total loss of hearing sensation and can prevent the build up of the fluid within the skull of the patient. 

Tests and Diagnosis for Acoustic Neuroma:

The signs and symptoms for Acoustic Neuroma tend to develop over a period of time gradually. The following tests and diagnosis are best used in order to diagnose the condition:

  1. Audiometry: This test is done by the audiologist. During this test, sound waves are directed into one ear at one time. A large range of sounds are passed and each tone is repeated at faint levels in order to find out if the patient is able to hear them or not. The audiologist also presents various words to the patient in order to determine if the patient is able to hear them or not.
  2. Scans: Various scans such as the MRI or CT Scans are done in order to obtain the images of the head in order to look for the presence of the tumours which cause Acoustic Neuroma. 

Treatments and Drugs for Acoustic Neuroma:

The treatment options for Acoustic Neuroma tend to vary from one person to the other. The treatment option depends upon the size and the growth of the Acoustic Neuroma. The following are the best used measures for the treatment of the condition:

  1. Monitoring: If the Acoustic Neuroma is small in size, but is growing gradually, the doctor may monitor the growth of the tumour. With regular imaging and hearing tests, after every six to twelve months, the doctor can look for the signs of growth.
  2. Radio surgery: Stereotactic Radio surgery stops the growth of the tumour as well as preserves the hearing and the function of the facial nerves. Radio surgery makes the used of Gamma Knife Radio surgery in order to remove the tumour without making any incision. The doctor can monitor the progress of the radio surgery with the help of the MRI and CT Scans. Risks of radio surgery also include facial numbness, balance problems as well as ringing sensation in the ear.
  3. Surgical Removal: In some cases, surgery is needed in order to remove the tumour. Surgery removes the tumour, preserves the facial nerves as well as prevents facial paralysis. Certain complications such as hearing loss or facial weakness are the side effects of surgery. 
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