Acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor of the eighth cranial nerve. It develops when Schwann cells of the nerve divide abnormally. It usually involves one of the two nerves of the vestibular nerve. It usually involves one ear. Its causes are not clear. But, in most of the cases, it is caused due to exposure to radiation subjected to the head and neck or loud noise. It affects the hearing and balancing abilities of a person. It is detected by a hearing test, CT scan and MRI scan. It is managed with surgery and radiation therapy.
Acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor in Schwann cells of the outer layer of the eighth cranial nerve. It is also known as vestibular schwannoma. It grows invariably out of control in one of two nerves of the eighth cranial nerve. Usually, it affects one ear. Its growth is slow and may take years to develop. It does not develop in the brain. It may grow large that may compress the brain and neighboring cranial nerve. Then, it may disturb the functions of facial muscles and expressions and sensations. (1)
How To Diagnose Acoustic Neuroma?
It is not easy to detect acoustic neuroma in the early stages as symptoms are gradual in development. Its symptoms also resemble the symptoms of other ailments of the middle and inner ear. Physical examination of the inner ear is first stepping to find out acoustic neuroma. Your physician may ask a few questions regarding your symptoms. The tests that may confirm its diagnosis are-
Audiometry (Hearing Test)- The audiologist may direct a range of sounds of different tones to the ear and asks you which sound you hear. Each tone is reduced to faint levels to check your hearing abilities. (2)
Imaging – imaging tests such as CT scans and MRI scans are performed to detect the tumors. MRI scan is used to detect small tumors of size 1-2 millimeters in diameter. It is the best confirmatory test for acoustic neuroma. CT scan is also used in some cases but it has a limitation as it cannot detect tumors of very small size. (2)
What Is The Best Medicine For Acoustic Neuroma?
Surgery is considered the best treatment for acoustic neuroma. The tumors are surgically incised from the nerve through a window from the skull. Its main aim is to preserve the facial nerve. However, if the symptoms of this tumor are asymptomatic, then the physician may decide to wait and monitor the tumor regularly. However, old adults are not an eligible candidate for the surgery as they may represent a history of heart and lung disease. (3)
If the tumor is large, some surgeons opt to partially remove the tumor and perform precise radiation therapy to clear off the rest of the tumor from the nerve. This process is known as radiosurgery. Its main aim is to reduce the size of the tumor. (3)
The surgical treatment of this tumor may present some of the health risks such as damage to the hearing nerve and facial nerve, hearing loss, balance problems, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), brain bleeding, headache, and leakage or infection of cerebrospinal fluid. (2)
After the surgical removal of this tumor, your physician may ask you for an MRI scan as follow up every 6-12 months. (3) He may also recommend cochlear implants and other treatment options to treat hearing loss. He may also opt for support therapies to tackle symptoms like dizziness or balance problems.
Acoustic neuroma is detected after careful evaluation of the symptoms, physical examination, audiometry (hearing test), CT scan and MRI scan. The best medicine for acoustic neuroma is the surgical incision of the tumor on the eighth cranial nerve. It is sometimes followed by radiation therapy.
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