How to Treat Acoustic Neuroma?

  • October 04, 2023
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How to Treat Acoustic Neuroma?

What is Acoustic Neuroma?

Acoustic neuroma, identified as vestibular schwannoma, is a non-malignant growth that emerges along the principal nerve connecting the inner ear to the brain. This nerve, known as the vestibulocochlear nerve, plays a pivotal role in transmitting information related to sound and balance from the inner ear to the brain. The tumor typically exhibits gradual growth and, despite its benign nature, can lead to diverse complications as it exerts pressure on nearby structures. Treatment alternatives for acoustic neuroma include vigilant monitoring, radiation therapy, and surgical procedures. Approximately half of individuals harboring small to medium-sized tumors and possessing intact hearing prior to surgery successfully retain their hearing capabilities afterward. For those grappling with hearing impairment, the use of hearing devices proves instrumental in reinstating auditory functionality.

Why is Acoustic Neuroma Treated?

The primary reason to treat acoustic neuroma is to alleviate symptoms and prevent further complications. As the tumor grows, it can affect hearing, balance, and facial nerve function. Additionally, if left untreated, the tumor may compress vital structures in the brain, leading to more severe neurological issues. Timely intervention is crucial to managing symptoms and preventing potential complications.

How is Acoustic Neuroma Treated?

  1. Monitoring: In some cases, especially when the tumor is small and not causing noticeable symptoms, a "wait and watch" approach may be recommended. Regular monitoring through imaging studies, such as MRI, allows healthcare professionals to track the tumor's growth and determine if any intervention is necessary.
  2. Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy is a non-invasive treatment option that uses high doses of focused radiation to target and shrink the tumor. Stereotactic radiosurgery, such as Gamma Knife or CyberKnife, is a common approach. This method is suitable for small to medium-sized tumors and is often chosen when surgery poses a higher risk due to the tumor's location or the patient's overall health.
  3. Surgical Removal: Surgical removal of the tumor is another treatment option, especially for larger tumors or those causing significant symptoms. The goal of surgery is to remove as much of the tumor as possible while preserving the facial nerve and hearing function. There are different surgical approaches, such as translabyrinthine, retrosigmoid, and middle fossa, depending on the tumor size and location.

Treatment Solutions for Acoustic Neuroma:

  1. Stereotactic Radiosurgery: This non-invasive option involves precisely delivering a high dose of radiation to the tumor, limiting damage to surrounding tissues. It's an outpatient procedure, and patients can typically resume normal activities shortly afterward.
  2. Microsurgery: Surgical removal of the tumor requires skilled neurosurgeons. Microsurgery aims to remove the tumor while preserving important nerves and functions. Recovery may take time, and rehabilitation may be necessary to regain optimal functioning.
  3. Monitoring and Conservative Management: For smaller tumors or cases where immediate intervention may pose risks, a monitoring approach may be adopted. Regular imaging helps healthcare providers track tumor growth, and intervention is considered if the tumor shows signs of progression.

Benefits of Treating Acoustic Neuroma:

  1. Symptom Relief: Treatment can alleviate symptoms such as hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance issues, improving the patient's overall quality of life.
  2. Prevention of Complications: Timely intervention can prevent the tumor from compressing vital structures in the brain, avoiding more severe neurological complications.
  3. Preservation of Function: Surgical and non-surgical approaches aim to preserve hearing and facial nerve function, minimizing the impact of treatment on a patient's daily life.
  4. Improved Quality of Life: Successful treatment can lead to an improved quality of life by addressing symptoms, reducing anxiety, and preventing the progression of the tumor.

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