What is acoustic neuroma? symptoms, diagnosis and therapy

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    Marty McFly
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    The ear is the precious organ that gives us both hearing and balance and consists of three main components. Under so-called “normal” conditions, the sounds we hear are sharp, well-defined and interference-free, and our sense of balance can keep us in an upright position without being jammed or skidding.

    When there is something that disturbs the delicate operation of the auditory system, hearing and balance disturbances occur. And here we perceive strange buzzing and the balance is never very stable. What could be the causes? Perhaps these are simple dizziness, perhaps – instead – we are in the presence of an acoustic neurinoma, more banally known as ear cancer (although not entirely correct). Let us see what this is about.


    What is acoustic neurinoma?


    Acoustic neurinoma is a rare form of benign tumour that develops intracranial at a particularly delicate point. Acoustic neurinoma affects not only the auditory function, but also the function of balance, of nerves that allow facial movements and regulate the emission of sounds and swallowing.

    The causes of neurinomas are still unknown. The triggering factors of acoustic neurinoma can be manifold and result in uncontrolled growth of tissue cells, a mechanism common to all tumours. It is important to note that, being a benign tumor, neurinoma is not metastatic. The damage it causes is mainly caused by the anatomical site concerned.
    Recognize and treat a neurinoma

    If you suffer from tinnitus, a constant hearing loss, balance disorders or dizziness, the cause can be found in a tumor lesion that affects the adjacent nerves,”- explained Dr. Giovanni Danesi, one of the leading Italian experts in acoustic neurinoma and Director of the Department of Otolaryngology at the Ospedali Riuniti of Bergamo -” These, therefore, may be the following


    Acoustic neurinoma: symptoms, diagnosis and therapy


    Diagnosis starts with the study of neurinoma symptoms, followed by an ear examination and hearing test (audiogram). Instrumental investigations such as contrast CT and magnetic resonance imaging can be useful, especially to understand the anatomical location of the tumour and its size. The therapy used to treat neurinoma is generally surgical, but sometimes radiotherapy is also used.

    The effectiveness of stereotactic radiosurgery, especially in the long term, is still to be evaluated – explains Dr. Danesi – in any case radiotherapy aims to stop the growth of the tumor, is not equivalent to removal. In addition, if it were necessary in the future to operate because neurinoma starts to grow again, it must be considered that the radiant therapy “modifies the tissues” and thus increases the surgical difficulty of a possible subsequent intervention “.

    Possible side effects of radiotherapy include trigeminal neuralgia, hearing loss and paralysis of the facial nerve, which is usually recovered to varying degrees within a certain time limit that varies from person to person.

    The undesirable effects of surgery for removal are directly proportional to the size of the tumour to be removed. Early diagnosis would therefore be important. If the lesion is less than one centimetre, we have a better chance of conserving hearing – concluded Danes – today we are able to do so in about half of the cases. While the probability of paresis grows together with the size of the injury to be removed. And when it is very small (two or three millimeters) you can decide to keep it under observation over time and remove it only if and when its size can create problems. About 60 percent of neurinomas do not grow for many years.

    There are few recurrences in cases of neurinoma, which can be estimated in:

    1-3% of surgically treated cases
    14% of cases treated with radiotherapy

    In short, even though they may seem absolutely “normal”, you never underestimate symptoms such as strange buzzing in the ear, although they are not mathematically related to an acoustic neurinoma. Let’s see what other causes might be.

    In short, even though they may seem absolutely “normal”, you never underestimate symptoms such as strange buzzing in the ear, although they are not mathematically related to an acoustic neurinoma. Let’s see what other causes might be.

    There are many causes of buzzing and loss of balance, and it does not seem necessary to worry too much. These include

    Taking of medications
    Muscle ear spasms
    Otological changes (e. g. Meniere’s disease, otitis, otosclerosis, cerumen cap)
    Neurological changes (such as multiple sclerosis)
    Acoustic neurinoma

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