Treatment for complex tumors at the base of the skull
Published: May 11, 2012
Updated: May 11, 2012
Acoustic neuromas are non-cancerous (benign) tumors that grow on the hearing and balance nerve. They are also called vestibular schwannomas.
These tumors are made up of cells called Schwann cells that are insulating cells within nerves.
They grow at a very slow rate, but over time will cause hearing loss and balance difficulties.
Acoustic neuromas are rare, occurring in approximately one in 100,000 people. Because of their slow growth rate, symptoms of these tumors often begin after the age of 30.
Symptoms of acoustic neuromas include hearing loss or ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Balance difficulties including vertigo are also associated with acoustic neuromas.
Because the symptoms are slow to show up and not exclusively linked to this type of the tumor, the most effective way to diagnose an acoustic neuroma is by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Other tests for hearing, vertigo, and balance may be used as well.
Since they are slow growing, acoustic neuromas often do not need anything more done than observation. Regular MRI scans can be done to ensure the tumors are not growing too large and threatening.
When they do grow too large, they can put the brain at risk and require treatment.
Radiation can be used to slow down or stop the growth of the tumor and can also be used in patients who are not candidates for surgery.
When surgery is determined to be the best course of treatment, your surgeon will decide on the best approach depending on the placement and size of the tumor and the patient’s specific needs.