Tinnitus is a common symptom of an acoustic neuroma and is far more likely to be unilateral than in both ears.

The question to worried tinnitus sufferers is if an acoustic neuroma can cause an intermittent “ringing in the ears.”

Some medical sites say that tinnitus can be intermittent, but as a medical writer, I searched all over the place for information pertaining to the continuity of an acoustic neuroma’s tinnitus –

  • Can it come and go?
  • Can it be sporadic, intermittent?
  • Can it be there on some days and absent on others?
  • Can it come and go within a SINGLE day?

And if the tinnitus of an acoustic neuroma indeed can come and go, how is this possible, being that the tumor is always there?

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An Acoustic Neuroma Surgeon Answers

So I posed these questions to Brandon Isaacson, MD, F.A.C.S., Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX.

Dr. Isaacson has been pioneering an endoscopic approach to the extraction of small acoustic neuromas.

With an endoscope, he makes the entry through the ear canal. The procedure is also called “transcanal.”

The tumor is literally removed through the ear canal; no incision behind the ear is required (though a small incision inside the ear canal is needed), and complications from the surgery are minimized.

“Tinnitus can occur intermittently but can also be permanent with acoustic neuroma,” says Dr. Isaacson.

Why isn’t is there all the time, since the tumor is there all the time?

“It is now thought that tinnitus is initiated by pathology affecting any portion of the hearing pathways (inner ear, hearing nerve, brainstem),” explains Dr. Isaacson.

“There are a host of modifying factors for tinnitus which we now theorize is an abnormal perception created by the brain.

“An 8th [cranial] nerve tumor is just one of many potential modifying factors. Tinnitus may improve, progress or remain unchanged with observation, radiation or surgery.

“There is no way to predict what will happen with tinnitus with any of the treatment approaches.

“I typically counsel my acoustic neuroma patients with tinnitus that no matter what treatment they choose, there is a good chance it will not change their tinnitus or it could make it worse.”

Here is more information on the groundbreaking endoscopic approach to removing small acoustic neuromas.

Dr. Isaacson’sdr. isaacson research interests include cochlear implants, endoscopic ear surgery and acoustic neuroma. His clinical interests include all aspects of otology and neurotology, with a special focus on skull base surgery.