The Brain Tumor Nobody’s Heard Of!


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Vestibular schwannoma, also known as acoustic neuroma is a benign brain tumor that can grow silently for years, often with very subtle symptoms.  Sometimes surgery is the best treatment. There are now a series of high-tech tests doctors use to help map out a successful surgery.

Cynthia Sucher never imagined she’d be here, getting strapped into a safety harness.

Physical therapists are measuring her reaction to being purposely moved off-kilter.

Sucher explained, “Maybe ten years ago or more I had an episode of vertigo where things were starting to swim. My first thought was I have a brain tumor. Little did I know that I did.”

But that diagnosis didn’t come for almost a decade.  For years, Sucher attributed her minor symptoms to normal aging.

“I’m getting older and I’m not as steady.  Getting older and I don’t hear as well. Getting older and I have dry eye,” said Sucher.

But when her facial muscles started to freeze a few months ago, Sucher sought out specialists. Neurosurgeon Ravi Gandhi, MD, at Florida Hospital is an expert in skull-based tumors.

“Vestibular schwannomas grow behind the ear just inside the skull,” Dr. Gandhi explained. (Read Full Interview)

These tumors are almost always benign, but they can wrap around the nerves controlling balance, hearing and facial muscles.

“We’re taking a tumor and peeling it off the nerves of the brain stem. That can make it very difficult,” Dr. Gandhi continued.

This series of tests measures the impact of the tumor on nerves and muscles so surgeons can pre-plan how they’ll approach the tumor.

Careful preparation for the surgery ahead.

Surgery to remove the tumor is usually conducted by two specialists: a neurosurgeon and a neurotologist, an ear specialist. The procedure can last twelve to fourteen hours, and recovery can take six weeks or more.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field and Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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BACKGROUND: A vestibular schwannoma, also known as acoustic neuroma, is a benign, usually slow-growing tumor that develops from the balance and hearing nerves supplying the inner ear. The tumor comes from an overproduction of Schwann cells. As the vestibular schwannoma grows, it affects the hearing and balance nerves, usually causing one-sided or asymmetric hearing loss, ringing in the ear, and dizziness and loss of balance. As the tumor grows, it can interfere with the face sensation nerve, causing facial numbness. Vestibular schwannomas can also affect the facial nerve, causing facial weakness or paralysis on the side of the tumor. If the tumor becomes large, it will eventually press against nearby brain structures, becoming life-threatening.



TREATMENT: Early diagnosis of a vestibular schwannoma is key to preventing its serious consequences. There are three options for managing a vestibular schwannoma: surgical removal, radiation, and observation. The exact type of operation done depends on the size of the tumor and the level of hearing in the affected ear. If the tumor is small, hearing may be saved and accompanying symptoms may improve by removing it to prevent its eventual effect on the hearing nerve. As the tumor grows larger, surgical removal is more complicated because the tumor may have damaged the nerves that control facial movement, hearing, and balance and may also have affected other nerves and structures of the brain.



VNG: Before treatment, a VNG test may be conducted. A VNG test stands for Videonystagmography, and it tests the vestibular system of the inner ear to determine if the dizziness/loss of balance is caused by an inner ear abnormality. There are different parts of a VNG test, one being the sensory organization testing. During the testing you will be asked to walk or stand in various conditions. With eyes open and closed and on different surfaces. This is used to determine how well your sensory systems are working together to maintain balance. Ravi Gandhi, MD, from Florida Hospital says it may lead to the diagnosis of an acoustic or vestibular Schwannoma, or it is a test that is done after doctors discover that somebody has a vestibular Schwannoma to assess some of their function before surgery to help in planning for surgery.

(Source: & Ravi Gandhi, MD)



Karina Saad, PR


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Doctor Q and A

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