The slow-growing benign nature of this tumor means that symptoms are slow to become noticeable for many and can take years to know that medical attention is needed. Acoustic neuromas tend to grow very slowly, and they don’t spread to distant parts of the body. Sometimes they are too small to cause any problems or symptoms. Bigger acoustic neuromas can interfere with how the vestibulocochlear nerve works and so causes symptoms.
What Are The Possible Downsides and Complications?
Damage to the facial nerve can happen following treatment, causing facial palsy. Damage to the vestibulocochlear nerve can cause permanent deafness, but more often results in partial loss of hearing. If the trigeminal nerve is permanently damaged, this can also result in loss of feeling in the face.
The eighth cranial nerve – also known as the auditory or vestibulocochlear nerve – consists of the vestibular and cochlear divisions, which runs from the inner ear to the brain. The cochlear division is responsible for transmitting information about hearing and vestibular division is responsible for balance.
An acoustic neuroma is a benign tumour that develops when the specialized (Schwann) cells surrounding the vestibular division of the auditory nerve, grow at an abnormal rate in the internal auditory canal. The tumour if left untreated, can grow into the auditory canal and all the way through to the brain.
Acoustic neuromas generally grow slowly, so symptoms develop gradually. The main ones – dizziness, hearing loss and ringing in the ears (tinnitus) – are due to the effects of the tumour pressing on the auditory nerve. If the tumour grows large enough, it also may press on the nearby facial nerve and cause facial paralysis or tingling. Although the tumors are not cancerous, they can become life threatening if they grow so large that they press on brain structures that control vital body functions.
People with a hereditary disease called neurofibromatosis have a higher risk of developing acoustic neuromas and can develop tumours on both sides of the head.
Because the tumour grows so slowly, the symptoms are easy to miss or misinterpret. The earliest and most common symptoms of an acoustic neuroma are a gradual reduction in hearing in one ear and tinnitus, a ringing or noisy sound in the ear.
Other possible symptoms that may occur, depending on the extent of the tumour, include: dizziness, loss of balance or clumsiness facial paralysis, numbness or tingling, headache, a feeling of something clogging the ear, or mental confusion.
Most of these tumours grow slowly, taking years before they become large enough to cause symptoms. Once diagnosed, they must be treated or carefully observed; they do not resolve on their own.
Occasionally, doctors may recommend no action at all beyond regular monitoring. This is because an acoustic neuroma typically grows at a slow rate in the initial stages. However, in most cases, treatment is required. Options may include:
- Surgery – microsurgery techniques are used to remove the tumour. However, side effects can include loss of hearing, and facial nerve damage.
- Stereotactic procedure – a non-invasive device that directs gamma radiation at the tumour. Side effects may also be experienced with this procedure.
All patients will require close follow-up. Patients and their physicians need to pay close attention for hearing loss, balance and facial muscle weakness. Hearing tests and MRIs will be performed periodically to assess changes in growth or new growth.
Acoustic neuromas are not malignant and do not spread to other parts of the body.
However, some untreated neuromas can grow very aggressively and cause severe and permanent damage to nerves, ear and brain tissue. Hearing loss and balance problems related to the tumour may remain, even after treatment by surgery or radiation. If an acoustic neuroma is diagnosed early, when the tumour is small, treatment is more likely to preserve hearing.
ENJOY EACH DAY ITS ALL A GIFT!
Again thanks for reading for a better understanding, Im happy to answer questions if someone would like, yours sincerely Bev
Hi, 4 weeks since my op, I was doing really well, off all meds and starting to feel better and sleep better, the steroids kept me awake and had nasty side effects, my hips have gone very week and if I squat I cant stand up, I have been doing a 20 walk on a walking machine each day, hopefully it wont take long to get back to normal. My eyes are still out of focus and nothing like they were before the op, so its hard to walk and concentrate and see, Ive had to get 1.5 reading glasses to see the computer and my phone, that’s how much both eyes have changes and they are both different at the moment the doctor said that this will change over time. Facial palsy is still the same, no change yet. Unfortunately my stomach has gotten infected I have a staff infection at present and on very strong IV antibiotics will keep you posted. What a shame my head is great my stomach gets infected, never mind. Cheers for now. ~Bev~
Infection has gone and I can get back to normal healing. I have found an fantastic website to help people with facial palsy, VIDEOS FOR ME AT MY STAGE Management of Flaccid Facial Paralysis (Floppy Face) The surgeons didn’t tell me anything! Thanks to a lady on this site who put the link up after a question from someone Acoustic Neuroma / Vestibular Schwannoma Group I’ve been taping my eye wrong at night and should have been massaging my face everyday, massaging palsy side and 9/12.19
7 Weeks have flown by, my balance and mobility is now great, ive been to the gym 2 times a week and walked 20 minutes on a walking machine. I can now squat and stand up so the steroids must be wearing off thank goodness. I see a very minute change in my face, but for now it is pretty much the same. Im sure my mouth is not quite as numb as it was in the beginning. My stomach wound is still being dressed every 3 days. Below is the lovely Dr Sharad Chawla my ENT Surgeon and Doctor for the past 7 years a lovley man. When I asked why he didnt visit me in hospital he said he came to see me on day 5 and i had been discharged. He said he was shocked but was glad to see me now. will keep you informed cheers for now ~Bev~