The MRI is always the same
Andy's story

Where I go for MRI, a doctor is called in to give me the gadolinium shot. Later, or the next day or so, a radiologist reads the MRI and writes a report. The ENT or referring doctor gets the report usually without seeing the picture. In every case, I ask for and receive a copy of the MRI pictures and of the report. I get the pictures before I leave the lab, and I get the report after it's been sent to my referring doctor. That conforms to the policy of the lab I go to. Maybe a state rule; I don't know.

Once you see an AN on an enhanced MRI, you know what it's all about. I spread mine out on the dining room table using a flashlight under the picture and measure the size of the neuroma. It's very very sharp and easy to measure. There's a calibration measurement on each picture so you convert the measurement accordingly. I have the information on my tumor size about a week before the report is in to the doctor, and it has always been the same (the same as the previous year AND the same as the radiologist's). I am lucky.

You (all) may take this, too, as a pitch to avoid rushing into surgery or radiation. It took me consultations with four surgeons and one radio-surgeon to decide to do nothing and monitor my condition. After all I had been losing my hearing over a very long period of time, and the tumor undoubtedly had been there a long time. So it turns out that when it was finally diagnosed, it had stopped growing. Mine was NOT a case of misdiagnosis... I just never went to have my hearing tested until six years ago, after I turned 65.

From what I've gathered ANs are generally not fast growing. There are exceptions; they seem to center on young women. Get to experts. There seem to be more neurosurgeons than AN patients. If they want to rush you into surgery find out why the rush. We had a case in NJ of a young woman, I believe under twenty at the time, whose tumor was growing so fast the doctors pushed up her surgery date from a few weeks to immediately.

The neurosurgeons song is "The tumor won't get any smaller and you won't get any younger." Don't fall for it unless it is growing rapidly. Most surgery patients in the ANA-NJ group had the surgery after only one MRI. Many, when they heard my story, realized they never knew the size of their tumors and felt they would have gone more slowly had they been better informed. None of this considers the discomfort or handicap you feel from your tinnitus or inadequate balance. It says go slowly if you can stand to.

Good luck.

Andy <gregg AT alpha.fdu.edu>

May, 1998

Last Edited: Wednesday, October 30, 2002