Gamma Knife Perfexion: acoustic neuroma Treatment
What is an acoustic neuroma?
Hearing loss, usually in one ear . . . problems with balance and walking . . . dizziness, sometimes with nausea and vomiting . . . a feeling of pressure in your ear . . . continuous ringing in your ear.
These symptoms indicate you may have a somewhat rare condition called acoustic neuroma. Acoustic neuroma is a non-cancerous, or benign, tumor located on the main nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain. When the acoustic neuroma presses on the nerve, early symptoms include problems with hearing, overall balance and steadiness. The cause of an acoustic neuroma is unknown.
Acoustic neuromas represent about 5% to 10% of all brain tumors found in adults. About 3,000 people are diagnosed with acoustic neuroma in the U.S. each year. One in 100,000 people are affected worldwide. The risk of getting an acoustic neuroma tends to be higher for people in their 40s and 50s.
If you have an acoustic neuroma, it may be necessary for you to undergo treatment, such as acoustic neuroma surgery or acoustic neuroma radiosurgery.
What are the signs and symptoms of an acoustic neuroma?
Acoustic neuromas are usually slow-growing with symptoms appearing gradually. As the tumor grows, you may experience numbness or your nervous system may be affected. Occasionally, an acoustic neuroma grows rapidly and may press against the brain. In this case, you may experience headaches, vomiting or be mentally confused. In rare instances, if the tumor grows large enough to compress the brain stem or there is a large build-up of fluid in the skull, an acoustic neuroma can be life-threatening.
If you have the symptoms listed above, especially hearing loss, ringing in your ear or difficulty with balance, see your doctor. When the condition is detected early, acoustic neuroma treatment can help avoid serious results, including total hearing loss or even loss of life.
How is an acoustic neuroma diagnosed?
Detecting an acoustic neuroma can be difficult, especially in its early stages. Symptoms of an acoustic neuroma are much like the symptoms you have with a disorder of your middle or inner ear. To confirm an acoustic neuroma, an ear exam and hearing test should be performed, followed by a scan. Larger acoustic neuromas can be detected by a CT (computed tomography). Smaller tumors can often be identified by MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) which is the imaging of choice.
What are the options for acoustic neuroma treatment?
In choosing an acoustic neuroma treatment, doctors and patients should consider:
- Patient's age, medical condition and hearing threshold
- Size of the tumor
- Results of imaging scans and other tests
Acoustic neuroma treatment options include:
- Watchful monitoring with regular check-ups and imaging studies, if the patient has few or no symptoms and the tumor remains small.
- Acoustic neuroma surgery, including traditional open surgery or minimally invasive endoscopic microsurgery, to remove the tumor. With surgery, there is a risk that the patient's facial nerve or hearing may be damaged.
- Radiation therapy to slow or stop growth of the tumor
- Acoustic neuroma radiosurgery, such as Gamma Knife radiosurgery.
Why you should consider Gamma Knife acoustic neuroma radiosurgery
Gamma Knife acoustic neuroma radiosurgery is an excellent alternative to surgery and other forms of conventional radiation therapy. Compared to surgery, Gamma Knife radiosurgery provides 97% control of acoustic neuroma growth with better preservation of the patient's hearing. The chance of a facial nerve injury due to Gamma Knife acoustic neuroma radiosurgery is less than 1%.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery is non-invasive and the Gamma Knife is not a knife. Because no incision is required, Gamma Knife radiosurgery surgery can be a safer option than conventional surgery. Rather than removing the tumor, Gamma Knife radiosurgery damages the cells so they are unable to reproduce, and the mass stops growing. The revolutionary technology uses precisely focused, beams of radiation to stop the tumor's growth without harming other nearby tissue. This is especially important when a tumor is located in inaccessible area or near critically important areas of the brain.
Minimally invasive Gamma Knife radiosurgery is nearly painless and has a much lower risk of infection than conventional surgery. Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a good option for high-risk patients with conditions like diabetes or hypertension. Most patients are able to return home on the day of treatment and resume normal activities the next day.
What Questions Can We Answer?
This is a complex and deeply personal topic its only natural you may have questions. Our experts are available to help.
* Denotes a required field
Leksell Gamma Knife® PERFEXION™
The ultimate tool for stereotactic radiosurgery is now at Washington Hospital.
- A revolutionary alternative to traditional surgery and conventional radiosurgery - highly effective in treating conditions of the brain and head areas
- Performed by a world renowned team of physicians and other medical experts
- Fast, precise and comfortable - PERFEXION™ delivers on the promise of minimally invasive treatment.
Our Medical Directors
Sandeep Kunwar, M.D., Neurosurgeon
Co-Medical Director, Gamma Knife Program
Board certified in neurosurgery and renowned for his work in minimally invasive neurosurgery, Dr. Kunwar played an instrumental role in the evolution of the Taylor McAdam Bell Neuroscience Institute where he now serves as medical director for three of the Institute's programs.
David Larson, M.D., Ph.D, Radiation Oncologist
Co-Medical Director, Gamma Knife Program
Board certified in therapeutic radiology and recognized nationally and internationally for his work in stereotactic radiosurgery for the treatment of brain tumors, Dr. Larson serves as co-medical director of the Taylor McAdam Bell Neuroscience Institute's Gamma Knife® Program.
About Washington hospital
Washington Hospital, located in Fremont, California, was the first hospital in the United States to treat patients using the new Leksell Gamma Knife Perfexion™, a revolutionary alternative to traditional open-brain surgery and/or daily radiation treatments, which are administered from four to six weeks. The Gamma Knife Perfexion instead uses focused doses of radiation without making a single incision to treat malignant and benign brain tumors in a matter of hours.
Washington Hospital's Gamma Knife® Program is led by one of the most accomplished teams of specialized physicians, physicists and nurses. Medical Directors neurosurgeon Sandeep Kunwar, MD, and radiation oncologist David Larson, MD, PhD, are both nationally and internationally recognized for their expertise, innovation and leadership in the field of Gamma Knife radiosurgery. Both board certified physicians, together they have more than 23 years of experience performing thousands of successful procedures.