The long-standing partnership of two of the nation’s premier treatment facilities has created the House Clinic Acoustic Neuroma Center at St. Vincent Medical Center. St. Vincent’s world-renowned program features House Clinic’s expert neurotologist and neurosurgeon team as well as exclusive operating suites in a private wing. Plus, with convenient adjacent locations and accommodations at the Seton Guest Center, House Clinic and St. Vincent Medical Center provide patients with the comforts and privacy of home throughout the care experience.
An acoustic neuroma is a benign, (non-cancerous) fibrous tissue growth that arises from the balance nerve. This nerve is also called the eighth cranial nerve or vestibulocochlear nerve, and it leads from the brain to the inner ear. Acoustic neuromas are not malignant, meaning they do not spread to other parts of the body. An acoustic neuroma is sometimes also called a vestibular schwannoma.
Acoustic neuromas account for approximately 6% of all brain tumors. These tumors occur in all races of people and are slightly more common in women. In the United States, about ten people per million per year are diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma. This translates to roughly 2,500 newly diagnosed acoustic neuromas per year. Most acoustic neuromas occur spontaneously without any evidence of heredity and are diagnosed in patients between the ages of 30 to 60. The exact cause of acoustic neuroma is not currently known.
In the majority of patients, the first symptom of acoustic neuroma is a reduction of hearing in one ear. This hearing loss is often accompanied by tinnitus, sound in the ear that has no externally audible source, and is usually subtle and slow in progression. There may also be a feeling of fullness in the affected ear. These early symptoms are sometimes mistaken for normal changes of aging which can delay diagnosis.
Because the acoustic neuroma originates in the balance portion of the eighth nerve, a patient may experience unsteadiness and problems with balance as the tumor grows. Larger tumors can press on the trigeminal nerve causing facial numbness and tingling, which can be either occasional or constant.
Severe symptoms such as headaches, staggering and mental confusion can indicate an increase of intracranial pressure. Immediate attention is required as this pressure can be a life-threatening complication.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we urge you to consult a physician so that a diagnosis can be established. For additional information please visit the Acoustic Neuroma Center website, http://www.acousticneuromasvmc.com/. If acoustic neuroma is diagnosed, call 866-478-8462 to make an appointment to see a House Clinic surgeon.