Patient Guide

You may have questions after learning that you have an acoustic neuroma or other lateral skull base tumor. We equip you with as much information as you and your family may need during your treatment journey.

Our patient navigator eases the process for you and your family. Your patient navigator is at your side, guiding you through treatment and beyond.

What to Expect With Acoustic Neuroma Care

An essential part of treatment of skull base tumors is understanding what to expect. We have developed this patient guide for acoustic neuromas and lateral skull base tumors to help you along your journey.

Getting Started

We look forward to meeting you. As you prepare for your first appointment with us, we recommend the following:

  • Be prepared to tell us about your medical history and other conditions you have.
  • Bring a list of your current medications and results from all prior testing and imaging.
  • Read this guide to understanding brain tumors.
  • Understand that every brain tumor is different, and we tailor your treatment plan to your needs.

Your Guide to Surgery

If you need surgery for a lateral skull base tumor, knowing the general process can help you feel more comfortable. Read about surgery.

Our unique approach to acoustic neuroma surgery includes:

  • Two surgeons: You have two surgeons, a neurosurgeon and a neurotologist, who combine their expertise and specialized skills for excellent patient outcomes.
  • Advanced equipment: Our leading-edge equipment provides detailed brain images and nerve monitoring during surgery, leading to a precise, safe surgery.
  • Dedicated recovery area: After surgery, you recover on a dedicated neurosurgery floor under the care of nurses with vast experience in neurosurgical postoperative care.

Support and Recovery

During and after brain tumor treatment, it's critical to take care of yourself. We help you at every step. Learn about Cedars-Sinai resources and support groups available to you in this support and recovery guide.

Our patient navigator eases the process for you and your family. Your patient navigator is at your side, guiding you through treatment and beyond.

Frequently Asked Questions

Patients with an acoustic neuroma or lateral skull base tumor have three treatment options:

  1. Active surveillance or observation is where we closely watch the tumor over time using a series of MRI scans. We treat the tumor only if it gets worse.
  2. Stereotactic radiosurgery is highly focused radiation therapy in which your doctor delivers tiny, precise radiation beams directly to the tumor. This nonsurgical therapy typically stops tumors from growing but does not remove them.
  3. Surgery removes the tumor. It’s also called microsurgery because it requires microscopes and small, specialized instruments.

You and your doctor discuss the benefits and risks of each treatment before you choose the option that’s right for you.

Our Surgery Guide provides an excellent overview of the surgery process, including general preparation steps. However, your procedure is unique to you. Our medical team guides you and your family accordingly.

You can also prepare for your recovery (about one to two months) with information in our Support & Recovery Guide. As this resource mentions, getting help from friends and family is important as you recover. We encourage you to enlist that help before surgery.

Your neurosurgeon and neurotologist (an ear, nose and throat doctor with additional skull base surgery training) combine their specialized skills to provide unparalleled surgical care for acoustic neuromas and lateral skull base tumors.

  • The neurosurgeon is an expert in brain surgery and typically completes the portion of the surgical procedure closest to the brain.
  • The neurotologist focuses on the structures of the skull base and ear and performs the surgical tasks closest to the inner ear.

Surgery times range from four to eight hours, depending on the tumor’s size and complexity. This time estimate includes tasks to prepare you for surgery.

Any surgical procedure can cause discomfort. But we find that dizziness, not pain, is patients’ main symptom after acoustic neuroma surgery. If you experience pain, our doctors can prescribe medication to help make you comfortable during your hospital stay and when you go home.

Most patients stay in the hospital for three to five days. During the first 24 hours after surgery, we monitor you for any complications. After that, our team works with you to improve your balance and ensure you can take care of your daily needs before you leave the hospital.

We recommend that you plan to be away from work for one to two months to allow time to recover. However, each person’s recovery experience is different. Talk with your doctor about the right return time for you.

Movement is an important part of recovery and can help alleviate dizziness, a common symptom after surgery. Our physical therapists and nurses help you out of bed the day after your surgery so you can start moving.

You can walk and do light activity as soon as you wish after surgery. We recommend avoiding heavy lifting or strenuous exercise in the first month after surgery. This period allows time for the surgical area to heal and decreases your risk of complications.

You may experience dizziness right after surgery, which usually improves over time. We provide assistance to help ease your symptoms.

Each person’s recovery is different, and we work with you to create a customized recovery plan. Our Support & Recovery Guide is an excellent resource for general recovery information.

Most patients return to their regular activities between one and three months after surgery.

Have Questions or Need Help?

To learn more or make an appointment, call us or send a message to the Acoustic Neuroma and Lateral Skull Base Tumor Program team. You can also ask about a complementary consultation or have us call you back at your convenience.