Acoustic neuroma is a non-cancerous tumor located at the base of the brain, originating from one of the balance nerves within the internal auditory canal. As it grows, it presses against several nerves and creates problems in hearing, balance, facial movement and facial sensation. Left unchecked, it may press on the brainstem and become life threatening.
The cause of acoustic neuromas in most patients is unknown. According to the Acoustic Neuroma Association, estimates of the incidence of symptomatic acoustic neuroma vary from one in every 200,000 people to one in every 3,500 people. Other studies indicate a more frequent incidence, perhaps as high as 1.5% of the population. Most acoustic neuromas are diagnosed on patients between the ages of 30 and 60.
Experience Diagnosing and Treating Acoustic Neuroma
Medical College of Wisconsin physicians who specialize in otolaryngology, communication sciences and neurosurgery have had more experience diagnosing and treating acoustic neuromas and other skull base tumors than physicians in any similar program in Wisconsin.
Widely recognized for their expertise in microsurgical techniques, these experts use a variety of state-of-the-art diagnostic techniques, including hearing, balance and facial nerve testing, as well as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These tools allow them to identify smaller tumors sooner, and achieve better results in surgery.
The team has pioneered the use of surgical endoscopes to decrease complications and focus efforts on hearing and facial nerve conservation during surgery. The surgery team also provides state-of-the-art care, with Gamma Knife radiosurgery, and the FSR (LINAC) system.
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin staff who treat bilateral acoustic neuromas, (neurofibromatosis type 2, NF2) offer a unique advantage to their patients with a multidisciplinary approach. The treating physician consults with specialists in medical genetics and neuro-oncology to make sure the patient is getting the benefit of a full spectrum of treatment.
The Acoustic Neuroma Program also treats numerous meningiomas, paragangliomas (glomus tumors) and other benign and malignant skull base tumors. Complex intraoperative monitoring performed by neurophysiologists and audiologists enhances the ability of the surgical team to conserve function, while eradicating the tumor. Reconstruction following tumor removal is also designed to maximize functional outcome.