Acoustic neuroma is the condition in which there is a thickening of cochlear or vestibular nerves. It may lead to hearing loss and imbalance. This neuroma has a very slow progression and does not go away on its own.
Do Acoustic Neuromas Ever Go Away?
Acoustic neuroma is the thickness or the abnormal growth of the cells in the nerve that leads to the brain from the inner part of the ear. The treatment adopted depends upon the thickness or the size of the tumor and the symptoms experienced by the patient. The progression of acoustic neuroma is slow and grows by 1 to 2 millimeters per year. However, in certain cases, the treatment required is prompt due to possible damage to the surrounding vital tissues. In most of the cases, three treatment strategies are adopted by neurosurgeons. These are.
Monitoring. As the progression of this neuroma is very slow, the best option in this neuroma is to wait and watch. However, the monitoring condition is best in those patients whose routine life is not severely hampered by the acoustic neuroma. Monitoring is also advised for those patients who are old and unable to bear the trauma of other aggressive treatments.
Radiation Therapy. Radiation therapy is generally used in those patients whose tumor is small but there is a hearing loss in the patient. Further, such treatment option is suitable in patients who are old or who are not able to tolerate surgery. The radiation therapy is done through stereotactic radiosurgery such as Gamma knife radiosurgery.
In this type of surgery, a calculated dose of the gamma radiation beam is directed on the tumor to stop the growth of the tumor and to reverse hearing loss. The beam is directed with the help of imaging scans to avoid damage to other adjacent brain tissues.
Surgery. Surgery is the option in those patients whose tumor is large and the quality of life is severely reduced due to the tumor. The target of surgery is to completely remove the tumor and preserve hearing. However, sometimes, complete removal is not possible due to the position of the tumor which is adjacent to the vital nerves. The various surgical complications occur if any of the vital nerves such as facial or cochlear nerves gets damaged.
Acoustic neuroma may either remains stagnant or grows very slowly. However, there are very dim chances that this neuroma shrinks or go away of its own.
Causes Of Acoustic Neuroma
The exact cause of acoustic neuroma is not known; however following may be the cause of acoustic neuroma.
Genetic. Defects in tumor suppressor genes is found to be the most prominent reason for the development of an acoustic neuroma. The tumor suppressor gene located on the long arm of chromosome 22. Any loss or mutation of this gene may lead to the development of vestibular schwannomas or acoustic neuroma.
Neurofibromatosis. Type 2 Neurofibromatosis, an inheritable disease, is also the reason for the development of this neuroma. However, this is not strongly associated as almost 95% of acoustic neuroma occurs in patients without this disease.
Cell Phones. Although a controversial cause, continuous cell phone radiations may also lead to neurological changes that may lead to the development of this condition.
Acoustic Neuroma Association has advised people who frequently use the cell phone to instead using the hands-free devices or earphones.
Parathyroid Adenoma. Parathyroid adenoma is also considered a cause of acoustic neuroma. It is a type of tumor in the parathyroid gland that manages the metabolism of calcium in the body.
Prior Radiation Exposure. Prior head and neck radiation significantly increase the risk of development of an acoustic neuroma. The patient who has undergone radiotherapy due to any other tumor may get damaged the cochlear nerves.
Loud Noise. One study has concluded that persistent loud voice may also lead to this type of neuroma.
With proper treatment, acoustic neuroma may go in the majority of cases. The treatment may be the surgery of radiation therapy. In some cases, it is not possible to completely remove the tumor due to its positioning between vital tissues.
- Mayo Clinic – Acoustic Neuroma: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acoustic-neuroma/symptoms-causes/syc-20356127)
- American Association of Neurological Surgeons – Acoustic Neuroma (https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Acoustic-Neuroma)
- National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders – Acoustic Neuroma (https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/acoustic-neuroma)
- Acoustic Neuroma Association – Information and Support (https://www.anausa.org/)
- Journal of Neurological Surgery – Acoustic Neuroma: A Comprehensive Review (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4481659/)
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