Signs of Acoustic Neuroma Tumor: Hearing Loss, Tinnitus, Dizziness

Print icon

For patients with acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor that develops on the balance nerve at the base of the skull, the waiting can be the hardest part.

While it’s estimated that only one in every 100,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with acoustic neuroma each year, the symptoms, which include loss of hearing in one ear, tinnitus (ringing sound) in one ear and dizziness or loss of balance, are quite common.

May 6-12 is Acoustic Neuroma Awareness Week recognized annually by the Acoustic Neuroma Association.
Most acoustic neuromas grow very slowly, if at all, and patients see their doctors to monitor the tumor to decide if and when intervention is needed.

For patient Henry Dekker, the symptoms were so subtle he paid them little attention.  Dekker’s acoustic neuroma was diagnosed after a routine physical exam and MRI.

“I had some hearing loss in my left ear,” says Dekker. “But I’m a salesman and I drive with the window open a lot so I figured that was the reason.  A tumor never came to mind.”

Dekker received a consultation from Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute neurosurgeon Dr. Paul Schwartz who connected him with Dr. Marc Eisen, director of the Hartford Hospital Hearing and Balance Center.  Dekker began seeing Dr. Eisen to monitor the growth of his tumor.

“Fifty percent of these types of tumors don’t grow and nearly 100 percent are benign.  So what you end up doing is kind of stratifying the patient: is the tumor growing or is it not growing?” Dr. Eisen says.  “If it’s not growing, although the patient will tend to lose more hearing, they can live with the tumor.  If it’s growing, we like to intervene either surgically to remove the tumor or through radiation to slow the growth.”

After months of monitoring, Dekker’s tumor had grown to the point where intervention was recommended. Dekker opted to have the surgery rather than be treated with radiation. Dr. Eisen and Dr. Schwartz worked in tandem during the eight-hour surgery to successfully remove the tumor at Hartford Hospital.

Today, the 61-year-old Dekker is back on the road as a salesman, his hearing loss has stabilized and, despite some slight balance issues, he says he feels great. Dekker says he was impressed with the team at Hartford HealthCare, not only for their expertise and teamwork but also for their ability to help him cope with the fear and stress of facing brain surgery.

“When you’re going to have somebody [operating on] your head you want to really make sure you know what they’re doing,” Dekker laughs.  “I really felt comfortable and confident with Dr. Schwartz and Dr. Eisen. I had the best possible outcome.”

To connect with the Hearing and Balance Center at Hartford Hospital, click here.




What's New

Applying Precision Medicine to Treat Your Cancer

As many as 38 out of every 100 women will get cancer in her lifetime – yet there is tremendous hope in the world of cancer research and treatment. Dr. Michael Kane is an expert on treating women’s cancers with the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute.  Q: As the charter member...

HPV Vaccine

New HPV Vaccine Offers Some Protection Against Several Cancers

Like many things in science and medicine, the vaccine for the human papilloma virus has evolved. First it was recommended for females age 12 to 26 who had not been sexually active, later for males in the same age group who had not had sex. Recently, however, research prompted the...

This Simple Saliva Test Assesses Breast Cancer Risk

By Meghan Burgess Breast cancer has a particularly high prevalence in Connecticut, but a new program is helping women and men identify their risk of developing the disease – and other cancers – through a simple questionnaire and saliva test. The Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessment Program, offered through Hartford HealthCare...

Upcoming Classes and Events in October and November

For a complete list of upcoming classes and events, please visit our Hartford HealthCare Classes and Events page. Upcoming Events Conditions Affecting the Hand Oct. 17 at 6:30pm in Simsbury To register, call 1.855.HHC.HERE or register online Lunch & Learn: Adjusting to Change as a Senior Oct. 18 at 12 noon in Southington To...

Dr. Camelia Lawrence

A ‘Bit of Anxiety’ Over This Physician’s First Mammogram, at 40

Dr. Camelia Lawrence took the proverb “physician, heal thyself” quite seriously when she donned a johnny recently and stepped up to a machine in The Hospital of Central Connecticut radiology suite in Plainville recently for her first screening mammogram. She just turned 40 and, as director of breast surgery for...

“Hidden Scar” Surgery: Making a Difference for Breast Cancer Patients

Breast surgeons at the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at Hartford Hospital are performing a revolutionary procedure that allows them to do specific types of breast cancer surgery without leaving visible marks. Dr. Heather King is a breast surgeon with the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute to describe how this technique is...