Hear, hear: MRI offers acoustic neuroma insights

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  • Published: Feb 1, 2014
  • Author: David Bradley
  • Channels: MRI Spectroscopy
thumbnail image: Hear, hear: MRI offers acoustic neuroma insights

Acoustic neuroma

For the first time, a US research team has demonstrated, using magnetic resonance imaging data that taking regular aspirin apparently reduces the growth of acoustic neuromas, also known as vestibular schwannomas. The development of this type of intracranial tumour can lead to tinnitus and hearing loss but can also be fatal.

For the first time, a US research team has demonstrated, using magnetic resonance imaging data, that taking regular aspirin reduces the growth of acoustic neuromas, also known as vestibular schwannomas. The development of this type of intracranial tumour can lead to tinnitus and hearing loss but can also be fatal.

In work funded by the US National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and by the Bertarelli Foundation, researchers from Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Massachusetts General Hospital have demonstrated, for the first time, that aspirin intake correlates with halted growth of vestibular schwannomas. Their initial work was based on a retrospective survey of human tumour samples from more than 600 patients diagnosed with vestibular schwannoma at the centre. The data hinted at a plausible therapeutic role for the well-known anti-inflammatory analgesic, aspirin. The finding adds another condition to the growing list of ailments and illnesses that aspirin, first marketed in the late nineteenth century by Bayer, seems capable of treating. The next step is to initiate a clinical prospective study to assess efficacy of this well-tolerated anti-inflammatory medication in preventing growth of these intracranial tumours.

It's complicated

“Currently, there are no FDA-approved drug therapies to treat these tumours, which are the most common tumours of the cerebellopontine angle and the fourth most common intracranial tumours,” explains study leader Konstantina Stankovic. “Current options for management of growing vestibular schwannomas include surgery (via craniotomy) or radiation therapy, both of which are associated with potentially serious complications.”

Retrospective analysis

The team reports their findings in the February issue of the journal Otology & Neurotology and bases their conclusions on a retrospective series of 689 people, 347 of whom were followed with multiple magnetic resonance imaging MRI scans. The main outcome measures were patient use of aspirin and rate of vestibular schwannoma growth as assessed by changes in the largest tumour dimension measured in the serial MRI scans. The team reports a significant inverse correlation among aspirin users and tumour growth, a correlation that existed regardless of age or gender. “Our results suggest a potential therapeutic role of aspirin in inhibiting vestibular schwannoma growth,” concludes Stankovic. "we need a prospective clinical trial, which our study strongly motivates," she told SpectroscopyNOW.

Related Links

Otol Neurol, 2014, 35, 353-357: "Aspirin Intake Correlates With Halted Growth of Sporadic Vestibular Schwannoma In Vivo"

Article by David Bradley

The views represented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

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