The Acoustic Neuroma Program at Weill Cornell Medicine is dedicated to delivering advanced treatments to patients affected by these tumors. The multidisciplinary team, led by neurosurgeon Dr. Philip E. Stieg and neurotologist Dr. Samuel H. Selesnick, offers a wide variety of leading-edge treatment options.
The acoustic neuroma specialists at Weill Cornell Medicine are also expert diagnosticians with access to advanced MRI techniques that allow for earlier diagnosis. Small tumors, diagnosed earlier, are much easier to treat and have better outcomes than those that expand outside the internal auditory canal.
Our experts evaluate each patient and recommend the best course of treatment based on a variety of
factors, with the goal of achieving the best possible outcome.
Call Dr. Stieg’s office at 212-746-4684 or Dr. Selesnick’s office at 646-962-3277, or visit www.weillcornellbrainandspine.org.
Confront the Issue, Count Your Blessings . . . and Move On
When Peter Benson was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, it didn’t take him long to decide he wanted to have it removed. An actor and musical theater performer who also loves carpentry, Peter says it was his ‘carpenter self’ who made the decision.
“Monitoring didn’t make sense for me,” he says, “because I didn’t want to be concerned with it growing, and subjecting myself to regular MRIs. It just felt like watching a problem and hoping it didn’t get worse. And radiation was out because the carpenter in me trusts the hands-on approach intrinsically. So I was leaning toward a surgical approach from the beginning, and once I met Dr. Selesnick and Dr. Stieg I had no doubt that that was the correct choice for me.”
Neurosurgeon Philip Stieg, PhD, MD, and neurotologist Samuel Selesnick, MD, have been working together on acoustic neuroma surgery for 17 years at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and they have achieved remarkable results with their patients. Their surgical expertise, however, was only part of what persuaded Peter to choose them for his surgery.
“I was deeply impressed from my very first visit with each of these men,” he says. “They have very different personalities, but both listen extremely well and possess the easy charisma of being literally among the best in the world at what they do.”
The surgery went well and Peter went home from the hospital just a few days later. “I was out of the hospital in three days and taking long walks around the city within days after that,” he says. “Two months after surgery I was doing a musical and riding my bike to the theater.” He’s grateful for having had surgery with a top team.
“It is difficult to speak about Dr. Selesnick and Dr. Stieg without real emotional resonance,” Peter says. “They have performed this procedure countless times, but for me this was a singular event. I would like to think that I’m at least a bit improved spiritually. Brain surgery is kind of a big thing and I’m grateful to be healthy and more sympathetic to those who aren’t. I truly do appreciate the little details in my life a bit more, and the people in it way more!”
Peter has some advice for others confronting an acoustic neuroma. Educate yourself and understand your options, get in the best shape possible before surgery, and be brave — “this is so doable,” he says. “Hook up with Dr. Selesnick and Dr. Stieg and get yourself connected to Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian,” he adds. “Then count your blessings and move on.”
Is Surgery the Best Option for an Acoustic Neuroma?
A patient diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma may be offered several treatment options, from simple monitoring to surgery. The best option for any individual patient is the one that is appropriate to their age and health, the size and location of their tumor, and the severity of their symptoms. Treatment options include:
Watch and wait. If a tumor is small, and not causing symptoms, the best treatment option may be no treatment at all. Regular MRI scans to monitor the tumor for growth may be all that’s needed. For patients whose tumors are larger, or are causing symptoms, intervention may be needed to prevent the worsening of symptoms. Continued growth of a tumor can also cause compression of surrounding brain tissue.
Stereotactic radiosurgery. This minimally invasive option is not traditional surgery, but a high-tech procedure that directs targeted beams of energy at the acoustic neuroma. (Many patients are familiar with the brand names Gamma Knife or CyberKnife — these are forms of stereotactic radiosurgery.) The procedure may be performed in either a single session or in multiple lower-dose sessions, with the goal of stopping the tumor’s growth. The effects of stereotactic radiosurgery are not immediate, but rather take place over time as the tumor responds to the treatment.
Resection surgery. Resecting, or removing, the tumor is a microneurosurgical procedure that produces immediate results. It is also usually the best option for larger tumors, where stereotactic radiosurgery is less effective and less safe. The surgical team includes both a neurosurgeon and a neurotologist, who work as a team on this delicate procedure, as well as a neurophysiologist to monitor the nerves that are being compressed by the tumor. This kind of teamwork provides an excellent foundation for successful outcomes.
There is no one-size-fits all approach to acoustic neuromas, and the most important aspect of the treatment decision is that it be individual, and made with the total well-being of the patient in mind. Dr. Philip Stieg and Dr. Samuel Selesnick, two of the country’s top experts on acoustic neuromas, work together to develop the best treatment plan for each patient.
Note: In no case does ANA endorse any commercial product, physician, surgeon, medical procedure, medical institution or its staff.