The Center for Acoustic Neuroma Dallas, Texas

Acoustic Neuroma Success Story

Dr. Hahn and Dr. Coimbra Successfully Remove Acoustic Neuroma and Save a Woman's Smile!

Published Friday, November 2, 2018


Diagnosis

In the beginning of April 2018, I noticed that had significant hearing loss and a feeling of fullness in my left ear. I thought I just had a bad cold and my ear was clogged. When this did not resolve on its own in a few days, I went to see my primary care doctor who performed a small hearing test, which confirmed I could not hear in my left ear and he referred me to an ENT.

I went to the ENT the next day and had a full hearing test, which showed I was only hearing 28% out of my left ear.  He told me that this is usually due to a virus and we have 14 days from the time it started to give me a high dose of oral steroids and also intratympanic steroid injections to try to recover my hearing.  He also stated there is this rare tumor, only 1 in 100,000 people ever have it, but we need to do an MRI just to rule it out.

He referred me to Dr. Hahn to receive the intratympanic steroid injections as he stated that would require a specialized ENT to perform them.  Before I made it home (which was only about 3 miles away) the nurse called and told me I have an appointment the next morning with Dr. Hahn.  I will admit I was not crazy about the thought of having a doctor I had never met sticking a needle inside my ear.  However, from the moment I met Dr. Hahn he was personable, compassionate and spent as much time as needed to answer my questions and to make sure I was comfortable before the procedure. One thing I remember him saying when I was trying to back out of having these steroid injections was “don’t you want to try everything possible to get your hearing back and if it fails you at least know you tried everything?”  Who can argue with that logic?  It was at this point that I knew I could trust him to exhaust all options to restore my hearing.

I remember with my first injection he was able to tell me step by step everything that was going to happen and everything I would feel at each stage of the injection before it actually happened.  This is a sign of a great surgeon.  Dr. Hahn also mentioned that there was this rare tumor called an acoustic neuroma that can sometimes cause sudden hearing loss and he ordered an MRI just to rule it out.  Between this appointment and my next appointment in a week for my second steroid injection I had my MRI.

On April 25, with my MRI CD in tow, I went to my appointment for the second steroid injection.  Dr. Hahn performed the injection once again talking me through it and staying one step ahead of everything I would experience during the injection.  After the injection you lay on your side for 30 minutes and so we mentioned that I had my MRI done and we brought the disc.  He went out and reviewed the disc and when the 30 minutes were up, he came in and put the cotton ball in my ear and sat me up and told my husband and I we have to talk.  He sat down and turned his computer around and showed us my MRI.  He pointed to a white spot on the MRI and said see this right here, that’s not good, you have the tumor.

I remember at this point I grabbed his knee and said “but you can fix that” because to be honest all I wanted was my hearing back and I had no idea what damage an acoustic neuroma does to your vestibular, hearing, and facial nerves.  Dr. Hahn thoroughly explained all my options from watch and wait, to the different surgical approaches, and radiation.  He spent time, a lot of time, answering all of my questions and my husband’s questions thoroughly.

I chose surgery to remove my tumor.  Dr. Hahn stated that he works with a neurosurgeon, Dr. Coimbra, when removing these types of tumors and that I would have an appointment to meet with him also. I also needed another hearing test and a balance test before surgery. Over the next few weeks I had these appointments. My husband and I met with Dr. Coimbra who is very knowledgeable and confident in removing this type of tumor. He also explained to us the different surgical approaches and answered any questions we had.  My next hearing test prior to surgery showed that I had 0% hearing left in my left ear.

Because there was no salvageable hearing to save, Dr. Hahn and Dr. Coimbra stated the best and most direct approach to the tumor would be to have a translabyrinthine craniotomy.  Even though this approach would leave me with permanent deafness on my left side it is the safest and there is less risk to the facial nerve. Dr. Hahn stressed how important it was to save my smile and explained that my nerves would be monitored during the entire procedure with special care and attention especially to my facial nerve.


Surgery

On June 15, 2018, I underwent a 6 hour surgery to remove the tumor. The first thing I remember was waking up as I was being moved to ICU with Dr. Hahn and Dr. Coimbra standing over me asking me to blink, smile, scrunch my face, close my eyes as tight as I can, and lift my eyebrows. They saved my smile!

There was no sign of any facial paralysis!  The next morning about 3 AM I went for a post-operative CT scan. The radiologist said the scan looked so good he could not believe I had surgery less than 12 hours ago.  This result speaks to how incredible Dr. Hahn and Dr. Coimbra are as surgeons.

Less than 24 hours after surgery, physical therapy came in and had me up and walking around the nurses’ station.  I took a lap around the nurses’ station and although I was wobbly, I knew that walking was very important for my overall recovery and my balance.

I had no pain after surgery but did briefly experience double vision and was unable to tolerate television, phone, and computer screens for a couple of weeks.  All of this did return back to normal. I was in the hospital for 3 days and Dr. Hahn saw me every day I was there. I spent 2 days in the neuro ICU and 1 day on the neuro floor.


Recovery

At home recovering, I spent time walking numerous laps around the house and throwing a ball up against the wall and following it with my eyes and catching it. Besides balance, single sided deafness was the other challenge but I found ways to cope with it.

At 2 weeks post op, Dr. Hahn removed my stiches and I was using a cane to help steady myself in public places.  3 weeks post op, I went on our family vacation. 4 weeks post op, I started practicing driving again in empty parking lots and worked on quickly turning my head.  The first 2 times I tried driving, it ended with me losing my lunch.

However by 6 weeks post op, I was able to drive short distances around town with no nausea at all.  7 weeks post op, I began vestibular therapy with specially trained therapists at Medical City Dallas Hospital on an outpatient basis.  I highly recommend this as it has helped tremendously with my balance and any dizziness.

8 weeks post op I returned to work full-time.  At 3 months post op, life is pretty much back to normal. I had a 3 month MRI and post op visits with Dr. Hahn and Dr. Coimbra. My 3 month MRI showed no sign of an acoustic neuroma.

Dr. Hahn and Dr. Coimbra successfully removed the entire tumor! I have a beautiful scar behind my ear that is so small and not noticeable at all. You would never know I had brain surgery.


Recommendation

I would highly recommend Dr. Hahn and Dr. Coimbra to anyone diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma seeking surgical intervention. Dr. Hahn is very personable, professional and thorough in his approach to a comprehensive treatment plan for patients with this type of tumor.

All along the way, Dr. Hahn and his staff prepared me for the next step so there were never any surprises.  There was never a concern that I brought up to discuss that was glossed over and not fully addressed so that I could make the best decision for me.

Dr. Coimbra is a very skillful surgeon and successfully removed my entire tumor. While doing so, he managed to preserve my facial nerve, without damage, even though the tumor was adhered to the nerve.

Together, both of these surgeons skillful approach have led to a successful recovery and I am forever grateful for the incredible work they did.

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