Because there is currently no cure for NF2 that can reverse or prevent most related complications, management of the condition focuses on surgery and/or radiation therapy to remove and reduce the size of tumors in order to lessen the severity of neurological complications. The specific treatment approach depends on the type and location of the tumor as well as an individual’s age and general health. For people who have suffered hearing loss due to vestibular schwannomas, interventions are available that can restore at least partial hearing in some cases.

  • Surgical treatments
    Surgery is often performed to remove vestibular schwannomas (tumors on the acoustic nerve) in people who can no longer hear or in those with small tumors where it is possible to preserve the acoustic nerve, which makes hearing possible.
  • Radiation therapy
    The goal of this approach is to reduce the size of tumors in order to preserve hearing for as long as possible and lessen the severity of neurological complications. Radiation may be given in one singe treatment or in several smaller treatments over a period of time and may include use of a highly focused beam of radiation called stereotactic radiation therapy.
  • Treatments for hearing loss
    Three types of hearing interventions – the BAHA hearing aid, the cochlear implant, and the auditory brainstem implant – can sometimes restore at least partial hearing for some people with NF2. The BAHA (bone-anchored hearing aid) is surgically implanted under the skin near the ear; an external speech processor transmits sound vibrations within the skull and inner ear, simulating the nerves of the ear and allowing the patient to hear. Cochlear implants might be used in NF2 patients with bilateral hearing loss. The implant consists of a device surgically implanted under the skin near the ear as well as an external earpiece. The device bypasses damaged portions of the ear, directly stimulating the hearing nerve and generating signals from the auditory nerve to the brain. The brainstem implant transmits the sound directly to the brain, and may be more applicable to patients with NF2 than the cochlear implant because it completely bypasses the site of the tumor.

For more information, please contact the UAB Neurofibromatosis Program at 205-934-4983.