Please accept my welcome and also my regret that your father has been diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma. That being the reality, you've come to a very good place on the internet. We don't have all the answers but we do have a a lot of caring, AN-experienced folks of all ages and from every walk of life, living all over the country (and the world) that visit these forums offering useful advice and information. I have to caution that we're not doctors and cannot dispense medical
advice but we can
and do submit practical advice, when requested, regarding the many aspects of an acoustic neuroma diagnosis.
At 57, your father is five years younger than I was when I received my diagnosis, underwent both surgery and radiation then recovered fairly quickly with almost no complications. I state this as an encouragement for you. Of course, we're all unique and one person's experience doesn't guarantee anothers but I thought you would like to know that all is not doom-and-gloom when the AN diagnosis is pronounced via the MRI scan.
As previous stated by Marci ('MAlegant
'), the surgeon's experience is vital to a good outcome. My neurosurgeon had over 30 years experience performing AN removals. While many factors are in play when seeking a positive surgical outcome, the surgeon's experience and expertise are crucial. This is the #1 on the question list: "How many of these have you done, Doctor?"
Understand that some questions cannot be answered because doctors are not omnipotent, much less, clairvoyant. I was very concerned about facial paralysis. My neurosurgeon understood my concern and took it seriously. Just before surgery, he looked me in the eye and said, quietly and sincerely: "I'll do everything I possibly can to avoid damaging the facial nerve"
. He did. The doctor even had a specialist flown in to monitor my facial nerves during the operation. The nerve monitoring is fairly common but the fact that my neurosurgeon hand-picked someone from out-of-town (Philadelphia) to perform the monitoring gave me confidence going in. It was rewarded, fully.
My wife has serious spinal problems so I can empathize with your father's concern about the extensive time lying on his back during surgery. Because I cannot credibly answer that I suggest you and/or your dad make this question #2 during your consultation. I would caution against being too hasty in agreeing to surgery unless your father's AN is truly endangering his life. Some ANs do. Again, ask the doctor....and please consult with at least
one other surgeon with AN removal experience to get a better context for your father's final decision on surgery.
As you probably realize, while the tumor is benign (not malignant) it resides in a place that makes it problematic and difficult to remove. The surgery is long and there can be complications...but not always. The majority of AN surgery patients do just fine, albeit with some work on their part (regaining their balance functions) and of course, the healing takes time. Unfortunately, in most cases, SSD (Single Sided Deafness) is unavoidable, especially if hearing has already been lost. That was the situation in my case but I've adjusted and compensated fairly well. Many do. However, there are BAHA (Bone Anchored Hearing Aid) devices that can help artificially 'restore' hearing in the 'deaf' ear, so your dad will certainly have that option. I didn't choose to avail myself of that option but I may change my mind at a later date.
Overall, Carson, I think your father's chances for a successful AN removal are good and of course, we all hope for a very positive outcome and rapid recovery. We'll collectively be rooting for him and of course, we encourage you to visit this forum and ask whatever you feel you need to know. If we can answer, we will. Meanwhile, take a deep breath, know that your dad will survive this and be assured that you have a host of friends here ready and willing to help and support you, your dad and the family in any way we can. Jim