Recovering from Gamma Knife Radiosurgery for Acoustic Neuroma

If your provider recommends Gamma Knife radiosurgery to treat your acoustic neuroma (vestibular schwannoma) tumor, you may have questions about the recovery period.

Fortunately, for most people there is very little down time after Gamma Knife treatment. Although you may have some side effects from the radiation, these are usually mild and manageable.  

Below, we have answered the most common questions patients ask about the acoustic neuroma surgery recovery timeline.

Will I Need to Stay in the Hospital After Gamma Knife Treatment?

The short answer is no.

Gamma Knife treatment is noninvasive, meaning we do not need to make any surgical incisions to access your tumor. And because the procedure is quick and painless, you will not need any general anesthesia.

We will keep an eye on you for a short time after your treatment, so we can assess how you are feeling. But then you can return to the comfort of your home.

How Quickly Can I Get Back to My Normal Activities After Gamma Knife Radiosurgery?

Most people return to their regular activities within a day or two, although this timeline depends on your ability to tolerate certain side effects.

Within the first several days after acoustic nueroma surgery, you may feel tired and nauseated. You may also have headaches.

If necessary, we will prescribe medication to help you manage these side effects. We also recommend you get plenty of rest.

However, it is perfectly fine for you to go to work, attend school or take care of your family if you feel well enough to do so.

Your provider will let you know how many Gamma Knife sessions you need to treat your acoustic neuroma (vestibular schwannoma). While some patients complete their treatment in a single visit, others need up to five visits.

How Quickly Will My Acoustic Neuroma (Vestibular Schwannoma) Symptoms Go Away?

Radiosurgery is considered a “long-acting” treatment. It takes time for the radiation you receive to damage your tumor and stop it from growing. In some cases, it can take up to six months to achieve significant relief.

During this time, you may need to start or continue certain treatments. For example, if you need help managing dizziness or unsteadiness, you may benefit from a type of physical therapy called vestibular rehabilitation. You may also need a short course of oral steroids.

Although Gamma Knife radiosurgery cannot restore any acoustic neuroma-related hearing loss, it can provide your best chance at hearing preservation. Your neurosurgeon can tell you if hearing preservation is possible depending on your lesion size and pretreatment hearing test results. If you’d like to improve your hearing ability, we can refer you to a hearing loss expert specializing in cochlear implants and other hearing devices.

Does Gamma Knife Radiosurgery Work as Well as Acoustic Neuroma (Vestibular Schwannoma) Surgery?

Yes, but it depends. An expert neurosurgeon who has experience and excellent outcomes with both techniques can figure out which treatment is best for you.

If you are eligible for surgery and Gamma Knife radiosurgery, you can take comfort in knowing both options can effectively treat acoustic neuroma (vestibular schwannoma). However, there is a significant difference in recovery time between the two treatments.

Surgery is usually the ideal option for patients with a large acoustic neuroma (vestibular schwannoma). With surgery, we can remove most or all of the tumor — meaning it is unlikely to grow back. But surgery also requires a lengthy hospital stay (usually three to four days) and recovery. You may need to heal for six to 12 weeks before you are cleared to return to your normal activities.

Surgery also comes with risks, including:

  • Adverse reactions to the anesthesia
  • An infection in your surgical wound
  • Damage to one of your facial nerves, leading to muscle weakness or paralysis
  • Damage to your hearing nerve, causing permanent hearing loss

Although Gamma Knife radiosurgery also comes with risks, including headaches and nausea, they are usually treatable and reversible. And as we have highlighted above, the acoustic nueroma recovery period after Gamma Knife treatment is quite short.

Contact Us

If you would like to learn more about acoustic neuroma (vestibular schwannoma) recovery and your treatment options or find out if you are a candidate for Gamma Knife radiosurgery, call 201-634-5610.

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Patient liaisons explain Gamma Knife surgery cost, outcomes, etc.