Treatment of Acoustic Neuroma
There are three treatment options for those affected by an acoustic neuroma: observation, stereotactic radiosurgery and surgery.
The conservative approach of simple observation is an option for specific tumors and situations. In selected cases, tumors may be monitored for growth over a period of time since some of these benign tumors seem to stop growing. It is a consideration for those with smaller tumors or tumors that have been documented to not be enlarging. In the elderly and those with significant medical problems, observation may be recommended, at least initially. Larger tumors are rarely observed.
Stereotactic radiosurgery is a recognized treatment option for selected tumors. It involves the delivery of a single dose of focused radiation. The growth of small and medium tumors may be arrested by this single dose of radiation. Large tumors cannot be treated by this technique. Although no incisions are required, the risks include: loss of part or all remaining hearing in the treated ear, dizziness that may be permanent, brain swelling and facial nerve weakness or paralysis. There is a slight chance, as with any radiation, that a benign tumor could become malignant. Your otologic surgeon using a team approach with other specialists coordinates this therapy. Treatment is completed as an outpatient over a several hour period.
For most of those affected by an acoustic neuroma, surgery is the likely treatment option. There are three surgery variations (approaches) depending on the tumor size, location and the amount of hearing present. Acoustic neuroma surgery requires many hours to complete and involves an overnight observation period in a neurological intensive care unit. Vital signs and nerve functions are monitored during these surgeries. Hospitalization after surgery varies from three to seven days.
The removal of an acoustic tumor is a major surgical procedure, with possibilities of serious complications, including death. Risks and complications of acoustic tumor treatment vary with the size of the tumor. Larger tumors are associated with more severe and frequent complications. The risk involved with acoustic neuromas and their treatment must never be minimized.