Neurotology is a subspecialty of otolaryngology that brings otology and neurosurgery together to better understand and address diseases and conditions that are common to both. This unique subspecialty requires both a board certification in Otolaryngology and a second board certification in Neurotology.
The Neurotology team at AOC is dedicated to the diagnosis, care, and treatment of diseases of the facial nerve and temporal bone. Conditions that fall under the spectrum of neurotology may include:
Acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that grows on the balance portion of the nerve that is responsible for hearing and balance, known as the eighth cranial nerve. Acoustic neuromas are non-cancerous and usually grow slowly, which allows for several treatment options. Symptoms of acoustic neuroma may include tinnitus, hearing loss, difficulty understanding speech, loss of balance, and vertigo. Treatment options for acoustic neuroma may include observation, radiosurgery, or microsurgery.
Tympanic membrane perforation (hole in the eardrum) is a fairly common occurrence, and most will heal on their own. Causes of a hole in the eardrum may include trauma to the ear or spontaneous rupture due to an infection. Symptoms may include bleeding and mild hearing loss. While surgery may be required to repair the eardrum, it is possible to live with the rupture. However, care must be taken to avoid water in the ear to prevent infection, and hearing may be impacted.
Cholesteatoma (ear skin cyst) develops when ear canal skin migrates into the middle ear cavity, and is simply the skin debris that develops as these dead skin cells build up. Over time, chronic infections and a cyst-like condition may develop, which potentially can destroy the bones required for hearing. Unless the cholesteatoma is small, surgery is generally required to remove the cyst, followed by a second surgery to check for residual cholesteatoma and rebuild the hearing bones.
Otosclerosis is an issue that is specific to the smallest bone of hearing, known as the stapes (or stirrup). The stapes is designed to move freely, transmitting sounds from the outside world into the inner ear. When otosclerosis occurs, the stapes no longer moves freely, and hearing is decreased. Surgery or hearing aids are usually required to improve hearing.
Cochlear implants are devices that can provide sound information to individuals who are profoundly deaf. There are two components, an inner electrode component that is surgically implanted into the ear, and an outer speech-processing component that translates signals to the internal component.