Benign brain tumor, the acoustic neuroma can cause a unilateral total deafness. Explanation of this unknown disease.

Outgrowth of the sheath surrounding the nerve of hearing, the acoustic neuroma grows slowly, causing symptoms more disabling, such as deafness or sudden loss of balance. Rare tumor, affecting every year in France 10 people per million, it represents 7% of brain tumors. The appearance of neuromas on the rise, particularly among younger patients, it is necessary to know in order to detect the process before it affects the patient’s life.

The acoustic neuroma, what is it?

The acoustic neuroma, also called vestibular schwannoma , is a non-cancerous tumor that develops on the eighth cranial nerve. This pair, as the name suggests, consists of two branches: one branch associated with the transmission of sound, the auditory nerve, and the other branch to send information to the brain to maintain balance of body, the vestibular nerve. This pair of nerves connecting the inner ear to the brain by passing through a bony canal of about 2 cm long, the internal auditory canal. It is at this precise point, the auditory nerve, which develops acoustic neuroma. This is actually an uncontrolled growth of Schwann cells, the cells that surround and protect nerves. The acoustic neuroma usually develops slowly over several years. It continues to grow in an area behind the temporal bone called the cerebellopontine angle and move up to the brain tissue. Extending the internal auditory canal slowly, it takes a pear-shaped and grows the brain. Vital functions may be threatened when the tumor because of pressure on the brain stem and cerebellum.

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What are the symptoms?

The main symptoms encountered are due to compression by the tumor more nerves. This can cause, in addition to significant alterations in the hearing, impaired balance and sensitivity of the face. The acoustic neuroma primarily affects the hearing of more or less important. It can cause a unilateral tinnitus, hearing loss with misunderstanding, and even cause a total unilateral deafness. It can also cause loss of balance when walking or during sudden movements of the head.

Heavy processing

Two options are offered to patients with this tumor: radiation therapy or surgery. The choice of treatment obviously depends on personal, medical, social and economic. But it also depends especially on the size and location of the tumor. Thus, for small tumors or tumors medium (up to 2.5 cm), we mainly guide the patient to radio surgery . The large tumors (greater than 2.5 cm), because of the development life-threatening, are treated in emergency micro-surgery.

That may be affected by acoustic neuroma?

Many recent publications indicate that the diagnosis of acoustic neuromas is increasing. This can be explained by the progress of MRI used to diagnose the tumor in patients with symptoms. Most neuromas are found in patients aged 30 to 60 years, with no family history. Certainly, there is a hereditary disease, the neurofibromatosis type 2 , which may lead to the formation of acoustic neuromas among people who are affected. Nevertheless, the majority of these tumors occur spontaneously, without any evidence of a model that can be inherited.