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International conference explores best practices for vestibular schwannoma

Jun. 26, 2019, 8:52 AM


by Kelsey Herbers

From left, Peter Morone, MD, Robert Yawn, MD, David Haynes, MD, Reid Thompson, MD, Alejandro Rivas, MD, and Ashley Nassiri, MD, represented VUMC at the 8th Quadrennial Internal Conference on Vestibular Schwannoma and Other CPA Tumors by serving as conference speakers.

Last week, the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center co-hosted the 8th Quadrennial Internal Conference on Vestibular Schwannoma and Other CPA (cerebellopontine angle) Tumors in partnership with Mayo Clinic.

The international conference, which is one of the largest and most diverse acoustic neuroma conferences in the world, drew hundreds of specialists from across the globe for three days of collaboration and discussion surrounding the treatment of vestibular schwannoma, also called acoustic neuroma.

A benign, slow-growing tumor, vestibular schwannoma grows on the balance and hearing nerves between the inner ear and brain, causing hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), unsteadiness and facial numbness or weakness when the tumor interferes with the nerve that supplies sensation to the face.

“This is an extremely important conference focusing solely on vestibular schwannoma. It is only held every four years, and this is only the second time it has been held in the U.S.,” said David Haynes, MD, professor of Otolaryngology, Neurosurgery and Hearing and Speech Sciences, director of VUMC’s Division of Neurotology and one of four directors for the conference.

“Neurosurgeons, neurotologists, radiation oncologists, neurologists, oncologists, audiologists, physical therapists and many other disciplines convened to determine best practices for this complex disorder.”

Although it’s the most common CPA tumor, vestibular schwannoma is rare, affecting less than 20,000 people per year in the United States. Without early intervention, the tumor can grow to press against the brain, potentially becoming life-threatening.

Currently, patients with the disorder can have the tumor surgically removed or reduced in size using radiation, which can also help limit its growth. Early identification is difficult, however, with many of the disorder’s symptoms mirroring those of other middle and inner ear conditions or not presenting until later stages in the tumor’s growth.

Topics addressed at the conference included current prospective clinical trials and best practices for treating the disorder. Presenters also discussed hearing rehabilitation and preservation, imaging and surgical techniques, and cochlear implantation in patients with vestibular schwannoma.

“Our Vanderbilt otology/neurotology service has thrived under the leadership of Dr. Haynes, who holds the Vanderbilt Otolaryngology Directorship in Relationship Development,” said Roland Eavey, MD, Guy M. Maness Professor and chair of Otolaryngology and director of the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center. “His co-hosting of this conference, in addition to other mega-scale ear conferences, shows how effective he is in bringing people together for common goals, such as education.”

Other VUMC presenters included Reid Thompson, MD; Alejandro Rivas, MD; Robert Yawn, MD; Ashley Nassiri, MD; and Peter Morone, MD.

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