SYMPTOMS, DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF ACOUSTIC NEUROMAS
This brain tumor is also called schwannoma, neurolemmoma or neurinoma. It is typically a benign brain tumor that comes from a balance nerve, which is part of the hearing nerve. This tumor is located in the back part of the skull in an area called the cerebello-pontine angle or CP angle. This brain tumor tends to grow very slowly, especially in the elderly. This is a relatively common brain tumor; more than 2000 cases are discovered in the U.S. each year. Acoustic Neuromas are most commonly discovered in middle aged patients.
The most common symptoms of an acoustic neuroma include, hearing loss on the side of the brain tumor, ringing in the ear (known as tinnutis), balance problems and headache. This brain tumor can also cause weakness of the face.
The best way to diagnose an acoustic neuroma is with a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI). Very small brain tumors can be found by MRI as long as the pictures are obtained properly. Computerized axial tomography scans (CAT) can also be used but are much less able to find small brain tumors. Once the brain tumor is detected, hearing tests should be performed.
The treatment of acoustic neuromas is different for individual patients. In most patients an attempt is made to remove the brain tumor using a microsurgical technique. In some patients, stereotactic radiosurgery may be the most appropriate treatment. In select patients a course of observation with MRI taken every six months or so might be reasonable. Each patient is individual and treatment must be prescribed individually.
More information about acoustic neuromas may be obtained from the Acoustic Neuroma Association or the American Brain Tumor Association website.