Patient Story - Sweet Sound of Success | PIH Health

Sweet Sound of Success

After Acoustic Neuroma 

Photo of Sara posing on a balcony overseeing the beach on a sunny day

Philip Atteberry

“Today I’m feeling great. I feel very blessed to have had a fantastic surgeon, a wonderful team of physicians, and incredible nurses.”

When 53-year-old Philip Atteberry woke up with ringing in his ears in late 2019, he initially suspected allergies. But when the ringing didn’t go away and he started developing hearing loss, he went to his primary care physician in Knoxville, Tennessee, who referred him to a local ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor.

A few weeks later, Philip received a steroid shot, but it didn’t help. The ENT then recommended an MRI, which revealed an acoustic neuroma.

“Acoustic neuroma is a rare noncancerous tumor that grows slowly from an overproduction of Schwann cells that surrounds nerve fibers,” explained Gregory Lekovic MD PhD, PIH Health neurosurgeon. “As it grows, the tumor presses on the nerves in the inner ear that control balance and hearing.”

Since the acoustic neuroma was discovered in March 2020—right before the COVID-19 lockdown—and since the tumor was benign and slow-growing, Philip decided to hold off on treatment. But as the year went on, his hearing got worse, so he connected with a friend, who was also treated for this rare condition.

In March 2021, Philip had a video consult with Dr. Lekovic, who reviewed his MRI and recommended surgery to remove the tumor.

“If the tumor gets large enough, it can press against the brain stem,” said Dr. Lekovic. “This can affect neurological function or even become life-threatening.”

Philip decided to proceed with surgery in May 2021 at PIH Health Good Samaritan Hospital with Dr. Lekovic and Kevin Peng MD, PIH Health otolaryngologist. Not only was the surgery a success, Philip recovered quickly enough to enjoy a trip with his wife exploring California sights in July—a trip that was previously postponed due to the pandemic.

“Today I’m feeling great,” said Philip. “I feel very blessed to have had a fantastic surgeon, a wonderful team of physicians, and incredible nurses.”