Acoustic neuromas, also known as vestibular schwannomas, arise from the hearing and balance nerve. While some patients have no noticeable symptoms or problems, others complain of dizzy spells, vertigo, trouble hearing, facial numbness and sometimes weakness and swallowing difficulties. Though most acoustic neuromas are benign and confined to the inner ear canal, some grow larger and push on the brainstem, which can be life-threatening.
Doctors have refined how they handle acoustic neuromas over the years, to a point where “treatment is very successful in the right hands, using a fairly standardized approach for when to observe, operate or radiate a tumor,” says Jennifer Moliterno, MD, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Yale School of Medicine. “When surgery is necessary, our goal is to remove as much of the acoustic neuroma as safely possible without causing permanent weakness to the face. Because our surgeons perform both surgery and radiosurgery, we are able to combine the use of both, leading to better outcomes.”