An acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor of the inner ear and skull base. They generally grow slowly at a rate of one millimeter a year but may accelerate as they enlarge. They arise from the cells that cover the seventh cranial nerve, which connects the ear and brain. Symptoms can develop subtly and include hearing loss, tinnitus and a feeling of pressure in one ear. Additional symptoms develop as the tumor grows including vertigo, headaches, facial weakness and confusion.
Surgeons at Camino ENT work with audiologists, neurosurgeons and radiation oncology physicians to provide comprehensive treatment for acoustic neuromas.
What Are Acoustic Neuromas?
Acoustic Neuromas are benign tumors involving the balance or hearing nerve. The earliest symptoms are hearing loss, difficulty balancing, vertigo, ringing in the ear and pressure in the ear.
What Causes Acoustic Neuromas?
A small percentage of acoustic neuromas are the result of an inherited disorder called neurofibromatosis type II (NF2), associated with a malfunctioning gene on chromosome 22. This genetic disorder often causes benign tumors to develop on the balance nerves on both sides of the head.
More often than not, acoustic neuromas are classified as sporadic, meaning their exact cause is unknown. There is some evidence of a connection between exposure to low-dose radiation of the head and neck during childhood and the development of acoustic neuromas.
There are no known risk factors for acoustic neuromas other than having a parent with NF2. If this is the case, children have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the condition themselves.
Are Acoustic Neuromas treatable?
Acoustic Neuromas can usually be removed by surgery or treated with radiation therapy. You and your doctor will decide on the best course of action based on your individual case.
Because growth of the tumor is usually very slow, many times your doctor will simply want to monitor the tumor’s progress over time, especially when few symptoms are present. Regular imaging tests every six to 12 months can track any growth.
Call Camino Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic at (408) 227-6300 for more information or to schedule an appointment.