Patients With Acoustic Neuromas Benefit from Physicians' Experience and Collaboration

For immediate release: December 16, 2011


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Hearing loss and ringing in one ear are the most common symptoms of an acoustic neuroma, a benign and generally slow-growing tumor that appears between the brain and the nerves associated with hearing and balance. At the University of Maryland Medical Center, management of this type of tumor is a familiar activity of the Skull Base team.

Howard Eisenberg, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine; David Eisenman, M.D., assistant professor and vice chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology; and Young Kwok, M.D., associate professor of radiation oncology, closely collaborate to ensure that patients with acoustic neuromas and all types of brain tumors receive the most up-to-date diagnostic and treatment modalities.

"The initial effort is informational and the patient is presented with all management options, including careful observation. Larger acoustic neuromas can compress the brain and cause additional symptoms, but most of these tumors are discovered before they reach this size," explains Dr. Eisenberg. Considering that treatment of these tumors is almost never urgent, observation can in some cases continue for an extended period, allowing patients time to consider which treatment option is best for them.

The Skull Base team, which also includes neuroradiologists, meets regularly as a group to discuss patients' conditions and to determine collectively which treatment plan will work best for each patient's individual needs and specific situation.

At the University of Maryland Medical Center, when surgical treatment is necessary, patients benefit from a complete range of approaches, including retromastoid, translabyrinthine and middle fossa, as well as focused radiation that uses the Gamma Knife. The University of Maryland has vast experience with the Gamma Knife, having had this technology for over 15 years.

"Patients are presented with options that are explained in detail by the members of the team, each of whom have established expertise derived from extensive personal experience. We believe that 'clear' presentation of the information about benefits and risks of each option is very important. Treatment decisions are guided by the team but are ultimately decided by the patient," says Dr. Eisenman.