Share this page

Health Library

Acoustic Neuroma(Neurilemoma; Vestibular Schwannoma; Acoustic Schwannoma)

Pronounced: Ah-COO-stic New-ROH-mah

Definition

An acoustic neuroma is a tumor that grows on the nerve leading from the brainstem to the ear. This nerve plays a role in hearing and in maintaining your balance. An acoustic neuroma grows slowly. It is a benign tumor, which means it is not cancerous. However, this condition can still cause serious problems.

The Acoustic Nerve

Nucleus factsheet image

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

The exact cause of acoustic neuroma is unknown.

Risk Factors

Acoustic neuroma is most common between ages 30-60. Factors that may increase your chance of an acoustic neuroma include:

Symptoms

The first symptoms of an acoustic neuroma include:

  • Gradual hearing loss in one ear with near normal hearing in the other ear
  • Decrease in sound discrimination, especially when talking on the telephone
  • Ringing in the affected ear—tinnitus

As the neuroma gradually grows larger, symptoms may include:

  • Balance problems
  • Facial numbness and tingling
  • Weakness of the facial muscles on the side of the tumor

If headaches or mental confusion occur, the tumor may be life threatening. Call your doctor right away.

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. Your ears will be examined. Tests of your nervous system will also be done.

Images may be taken of your head. This can be done with:

Tests may be done on your ears. These may include:

  • Audiogram
  • Auditory brainstem response test
  • Electronystagmography
Treatment

Treatment depends on your age, general health, the size and location of the tumor, and its rate of growth. Treatment may include:

Observation

If the tumor is very small, its growth may be monitored. Sometimes tumors do not grow any more. This is approach is common among people over age 70.

Microsurgical Removal

As the tumor grows and/or hearing becomes impaired, removal of the tumor may be needed. The type of surgery depends on the size and location of the tumor. Complications of surgery may include permanent hearing loss and/or paralysis of facial muscles on the affected side.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is the use of radiation to kill cells and shrink tumors. Radiation is expected to prevent further growth of the tumor. Radiation may be used when tumors are small and surgery is not possible. This method may preserve hearing. It may be given over several treatments or as one large dose. You may be treated with a procedure called stereotactic radiosurgery. This surgery uses a focused beam of radiation to destroy the tumor tissue.

Prevention

There are no current guidelines for preventing acoustic neuroma because the cause is not usually known.

RESOURCES:

Acoustic Neuroma Association
http://www.anausa.org

American Academy of Audiology
http://www.audiology.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Academy of Audiology
http://www.canadianaudiology.ca

The College of Family Physicians of Canada
http://www.cfpc.ca

References:

Acoustic neuroma. American Hearing Research Foundation. Available at: http://american-hearing.org/disorders/acoustic-neuroma. Updated October 2012. Accessed August 8, 2014.

Acoustic neuroma. Vestibular Disorders Association. Available at: http://vestibular.org/acoustic-neuroma. Accessed August 8, 2014.

Vestibular schwannoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 21, 2014. Accessed August 8, 2014.

What is acoustic neuroma? Acoustic Neuroma Association website. Available at: http://www.anausa.org/index.php/overview/what-is-acoustic-neuroma. Accessed August 8, 2014.



Last reviewed August 2014 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Baptist Flame

Baptist Health Systems

Find A Doctor

Services

Locations

Baptist Medical Clinic

Patients & Visitors

Learn

Contact Us

Physician Tools

Careers at Baptist

Employee Links

Online Services

At Baptist Health Systems

At Baptist Medical Center

close ×