An expert’s guide to acoustic neuroma

Written by: Mr Ramez Ibrahim
Edited by: Conor Dunworth

Acoustic neuroma, also known as vestibular schwannoma, is a type of benign tumour that can lead to serious complications if it is not quickly diagnosed and treated. To raise awareness this National Acoustic Neuroma Month, highly esteemed consultant neurosurgeon Mr Ramez Ibrahim tells us all about this condition.


What are acoustic neuromas, and are they life-threatening?

Acoustic neuroma is a type of benign brain tumour that originates from the vestibular nerve in the ear. It can be life-threatening if it reaches a large size. However, thanks to recent advances in treatment, these tumours can be recognised and treated early, before they can cause significant harm to the patient.


How do these brain tumours form?

These tumours start to grow from the vestibular nerve, which is the balance nerve in the ear. They originate from the coverings of the nerve, and grow very slowly over time, leading to hearing loss and tinnitus. If they are not diagnosed, they can lead to further complications such as brainstem compression, and even become life-threatening.


How common are they, and are they easy to treat?

Acoustic neuroma (or vestibular schwannoma) tumours make up about 6% of all brain tumours. Some of them do not continue to grow after they first appear, so there is an option of just observing them in the first instance. However, if they prove to grow, they can be treated by surgery or Gamma Knife radiation.


When would surgery be considered a treatment option?

Surgery used to be the main option for treatment in the past, but because these tumours are being diagnosed earlier, it is becoming less and less employed. Surgery is still one of the treatment options for particularly large tumours. However, sometimes if the tumour is not completely resected, Gamma Knife radiosurgery would offer a very good option for the treatment of any residual disease.


 Are there any non-surgical treatment options? If so, what are they?

The non-surgical option for vestibular schwannoma is radiation treatment. The most popular, backed by the most research, is Gamma Knife radiation surgery. It has a very good response rate and leads to very good tumour control.  This means that the tumour does not continue to grow in 95% to almost 100% of cases over a ten-year period of follow-up.


Mr Ramez Ibrahim is a leading neurosurgeon, with over 25 years of experience in his profession. If you would like to book an appointment with Mr Ibrahim, you can do so via his Top Doctors profile.

By Mr Ramez Ibrahim

Mr Ramez Ibrahim is a highly qualified and revered consultant neurosurgeon who specialises in GammaKnife radiosurgery, sciatica, lumbar spinal surgery, back pain, spinal fusion, and arteriovenous malformations. He currently practises at the Thornbury Radiosurgery Centre, which is located within the Sheffield-based BMI Thornbury Hospital

Mr Ibrahim, who qualified in 1995 after successfully completing an MBBS in medicine at Cairo University, impressively holds three neurosurgical board certificates: the Royal College of Surgeons Fellowship, the European Board of Neurosurgery, as well as the Egyptian Doctorate in Neurosurgery. After obtaining his MBBS, Mr Ibrahim would then go on to undertake specialist, intensive neurosurgical training. He was then appointed as a consultant neurosurgeon at the neurosugical department in Cairo University in 2004, the same year in which he obtained an MD in neurosurgery from said university. 

Mr Ibrahim relocated to the UK in 2010 and immediately opted to undertake further fellowships, including a skull base surgery fellowship at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, and a GammaKnife radiosurgery fellowship, which he completed in Sheffield between the years 2012 and 2013. He gained valuable and extensive experience in relation to every possible aspect related to spinal disease, thanks, at large, to his complex spinal surgery training which was completed in 2013 at the globally renowned Cardiff and Vale Orthopaedic Spinal Surgery and Trauma Unit

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