This case involves a woman who presented to a clinic with a clogged ear canal with tinnitus that persisted for some time. The patient stated that her ear symptoms began when she suffered an upper respiratory infection. Testing revealed mild hearing loss due to the presence of a mass in the patient’s ear canal. The mass causing the blockage appeared to encompass the facial nerve, and the subsequent removal of the mass damaged the facial nerve. A nerve graft procedure was done, however the patient continued to suffer facial paralysis and difficulty with swallowing. It was alleged that the treating physicians were negligent in their removal of the mass.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1) Are you familiar with the removal of this type of tumor?
Expert Witness Response E-006784
I am a general surgical pathologist with subspecialty training in cytopathology, ocular pathology and head and neck pathology. I have diagnosed numerous schwannomas and acoustic neuromas over the past decade. Schwannomas (the type of tumor in question here) are nerve sheath tumors, and are a fairly common occurrence in the head and neck, being found in 3-4% off all patients at autopsy. Furthermore, these tumors are almost always benign, and their structure allows them to be completely removed via surgery on most occasions. That being said, there is always a risk of nerve damage when they are removed, which seems to have occurred here.