Acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor of the vestibular nerve which runs from your ears to your brain. It is a slow-growing tumor and may not cause any symptoms for several years. It is also known as vestibular Schwannoma.(1)
What Is The Prognosis For Acoustic Neuroma?
Acoustic neuromas are benign and not malignant or cancerous. They do not spread to any other parts of the body. however, if left untreated, some of the acoustic neuromas can grow very rapidly and aggressively, which can lead to permanent damage to many nerves, ears, and brain tissue. There may be a progressive hearing loss and problem in maintaining your balance or unsteadiness. These problems may persist even after treatment, like surgery and radiation. If the acoustic neuroma can be diagnosed early and it is small and treatment is started promptly, there is a good chance that the hearing can be preserved.(2)
Can Acoustic Neuroma Cause Neck Pain?
Acoustic neuroma is known to produce symptoms like progressive hearing loss, vertigo, tinnitus, unsteadiness, dizziness, facial numbness, etc. very rarely it may cause facial weakness and paralysis. However, it is generally not known to cause any neck pain. But symptoms can vary from person to person.
The treatment of your acoustic neuroma may vary depending upon various factors, like size and growth of the neuroma, your general health condition, and presence of any signs and symptoms. The treatment may comprise of one or many of the following different methods-
If the neuroma is very small and does not grow or is growing very slowly and not producing any signs and symptoms, your doctor may suggest you wait, and he will monitor you closely and carefully over time. This is especially important when other treatment methods are not possible to be implemented, like in an elderly person, it may not be wise to go for surgery or any other aggressive treatment.
During the period of watchful waiting, you will be advised to take several tests and scans to evaluate your condition from time to time. If the tests are suggestive of growth or progress in the symptoms, then there may be a need to change the course of the treatment.(3)
- Surgery is used to remove the acoustic neuroma. The type of surgery will depend upon various factors like the size and location of the neuroma, your hearing capabilities, and other such factors.
- The surgery focuses on removing the neuroma and, at the same time, preserving the facial nerve and hearing and preventing facial paralysis.
- It may not be possible to remove the entire neuroma through surgery. Also, sometimes, there may be complications due to surgery, like hearing loss, facial paralysis, facial weakness, numbness, tinnitus, unsteadiness, meningitis, stroke, etc.(3)
- Radiosurgery can be another option when surgery is not possible or recommended.
- In this procedure, a dose of radiation targets the neuroma and yet does not cause any damage to the nearby tissue and does not need an incision too.
- This is performed with the help of imaging scans to guide your doctor to the exact location of the neuroma.
- Radiotherapy may take weeks to show its effects on the neuroma.(3)
Acoustic neuroma often requires watchful waiting and no other treatment, since it does not grow very fast. However, surgery and radiosurgery are other treatment options. although there are chances that three still would be a loss of hearing or unsteadiness or other symptoms even after the completion of treatment. if there is a partial removal of acoustic neuroma there is a chance of recurrence. Also, in the case of radioactive surgery, the chances of recurrence may be present. With a complete removal through surgery, the chances of recurrence are quite low.
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