Hearing improvement in vestibular schwannoma
Hearing improvement in vestibular schwannoma is possible. Unfortunately hearing loss in vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma) remains a problem. Fortunately, many options exist to improve hearing in patients with this kind of tumour.
Vestibular schwannoma may cause hearing loss of different degree and severity and in different ways. It is not rare for a patient to lose all their hearing. Even in cases where the tumour is observed and does not seem to grow it can still cause hearing loss.
It is generally accepted that 15% of patients with normal hearing may suffer sudden often irreversible hearing loss in the presence of a vestibular schwannoma. Larger tumours will eventually destroy the hearing nerve and when pressing on the brainstem may cause hearing loss due to sound conduction in the brainstem cochlear nucleus itself. A small vestibular schwannoma in the inner ear may stent the stapes bone from the inside, impairing movement and causing a conductive hearing loss.
Whatever the cause and the actual anatomical site of hearing, hearing improvement in vestibular schwannoma is possible with many options existing to improve or augment poor hearing.
With slight, mild, moderate and even severe hearing loss a hearing aid may be helpful. Different hearing aids are available and can be used.
When hearing loss occurs with a small tumour and the cochlear nerve is spared after surgery a cochlear implant (CI) is an excellent option to restore hearing. This may even be performed during the same procedure. Unfortunately, radiation is not a good option for a tumour close to the cochlea as it reduces the success and outcome of a CI.
With larger tumours that destroys the cochlear nerve or after surgical removal, air conduction and bone conduction options exist. Air conduction systems include the CROS device and bone conduction systems the Baha, Ponto, Bonebridge and Sophono. What is nice about these options are that both can be trailed before a final decision is taken.
For those patients with Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF-2) with two vestibular schwannomas, hearing aids, cochlear implantation, air and bone conduction may not work and in these cases auditory brainstem implantation (ABI) remains an option. ABI is now offered in South Africa
If you have hearing loss due to a vestibular schwannoma feel free to make an appointment in order to determine which hearing solution may help you.