Head and Neck Surgery Center
ENT Head & Neck Surgery Center

Rm 02, 5/F., Kai Seng Commerical Centre,
4-6 Hankow Road, TST Kln, HK
(near Kowloon Hotel)
Tel: (852) 3100 0555
Fax: (852) 3100 0556

Lawrence Chow / ENT Doctor

acoustic neuroma

Are You At Risk for Acoustic Neuroma?

Acoustic neuroma is a non-cancerous tumor in the vestibular nerve connecting your inner ear and brain. While it will not kill you, per se, it will cause a wide range of symptoms like headaches, nausea and loss of balance and coordination when it’s large enough. These symptoms are due to the fact that the branches of the vestibular nerve have a direct influence on hearing, balance and coordination.


If it’s any consolation, acoustic neuroma isn’t a contagious disease. You won’t get it by sitting next to a person with it, not even by sharing utensils and a bed. But it’s also important to know the risk factors so you can decide to seek medical opinion in case you have the symptoms.


Risk Factors Explained

Emphasis must be made that risk factors refers to the characteristics, bahaviors and conditions that increase the likelihood of getting a specific illness or injury. The presence of one or more risk factors doesn’t automatically mean getting the illness or suffering from the injury 100%.


For example, a risk factor for lung cancer is the use of tobacco products, particularly smoking cigarettes. But it doesn’t mean that every smoker will be afflicted with lung cancer! It only means that there’s a higher risk for smoker to get lung cancer.


Risk Factor for Acoustic Neuroma

With that being said, scientists have identified a single risk factor for acoustic neuroma: neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2). There may or may be other risk factors but NF2 is the only confirmed risk factor, for now.  There’s also the matter of NF2 only accounting for around 5% of cases.


NF2 is characterized by the development of benign tumors on the balance nerves that, in turn, affect balance and coordination in the affected person. This is an autosomal dominant disorder, a mutation passed on by a dominant gene of an affected parent. As such, a child with a parent affected by NF2 has a 50-50 chance of getting it through genetic inheritance.


This means that the genetic lottery can swing either way. You can inherit the malfunctioning gene located on chromosome 22 or you don’t have it.


Normally, said gene on chromosome 22 produces a protein that suppresses tumor growth. This tumor suppressor protein aids in controlling the abnormal growth of Schwann cells on the balance nerves.


At present, scientists have yet to determine why and how the gene malfunctions. For this reason, there’s usually no identifiable cause for acoustic neuroma.


If one of your parents has NF2, you may want to look out for possible signs and symptoms of acoustic neuroma. You won’t immediately feel these signs, however, as these are usually subtle and take years to develop.


But if you experience gradual or sudden hearing loss, either in one or both ears, tinnitus, loss of balance and/or dizziness, you should seek medical opinion for your ENT specialist ASAP.


For details of the ENT services, diagnosis, and treatment, please consult HK ENT specialist.




HK ENT Specialist Ltd.

Hong Kong based ENT clinic centre

For ENT Services, Audiology & Speech Therapy,

Sleep Disordered Breathing Management,

Hearing Aid Prescription & Medical Cosmetic Services


Surgical Procedures and Radiation Therapy Options for Acoustic Neuroma

An acoustic neuroma refers to the noncancerous growth that develops on the vestibulocochlear nerve. This is also called the eighth cranial nerve and it connects the inner ear with the brain. These tumors typically grow slowly over a period of years, which is why your ENT doctor generally observes the condition at first to ascertain the best course of treatment.

However, the treatment may be necessary eventually because the tumor can grow and push on the brain. As the tumor becomes bigger, it can press on the nearby cranial nerves which control the muscles for facial expression and sensation. If the tumor becomes large enough, it can press on the brain stem and this can be life-threatening.



The ENT doctor can recommend surgery, which may involve removing all or part of the tumor. Removing the acoustic neuroma may be undertaken using any of the 3 main surgical approaches.



This surgical procedure has the surgeon making an incision behind the ear and then removing the bone behind the ear and some of the middle ear. This procedure is used for tumors when they grow larger than 3 centimeters.

The advantage of this technique is that it lets the facial nerve clearly before the removal of the tumor. However, the drawback of this approach is that the patient ends up with permanent hearing loss.


Retrosigmoid / Sub-occipital

This involves opening the skull near the back of the head to expose the back of the tumor. This technique can be used for removing tumors of any size and it also offers the chance of preserving hearing.


Middle Fossa

In this procedure, the surgeon removes a small piece of bone above the ear canal to reach and remove the small tumors confined to the internal auditory canal. This canal is the narrow passageway from the brain to the middle and inner ear. Using this procedure may enable the surgeon to preserve the patient’s hearing as well.


Radiation Therapy

In some cases, the ENT doctor may recommend radiation therapy for the acoustic neuroma. The doctor can deliver high doses of radiation to the tumor while limiting the exposure and damage to surrounding tissue using advanced modern delivery techniques.

Radiation therapy for acoustic neuroma can be delivered in one of two ways.


SRS (Single Fraction Stereotactic Radiosurgery)

In SRS, the doctor aims many hundreds of small beams of radiation at the tumor in just a single session.


FRS (Multi-Session Fractionated Stereotactic Radiotherapy)

The ENT doctor delivers smaller doses of radiation daily, usually over a period of several weeks. Some studies indicate that multi-session therapy may be better at preserving the hearing than SRS.

Both ways are outpatient procedures, with patients not required to stay at the hospital. The radiation therapy kills the tumor cells and the growth of the tumor may stop or slow down. It may even shrink, but the tumor isn’t completely removed.


If you suffer acoustic neuroma, it is suggested to consult an ENT Specialist for details of the treatment.




HK ENT Specialist Ltd.

Hong Kong based ENT clinic centre

For ENT Services, Audiology & Speech Therapy,

Sleep Disordered Breathing Management,

Hearing Aid Prescription & Medical Cosmetic Services


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