(Neurilemoma; Vestibular Schwannoma; Acoustic Schwannoma)
Pronounced: Ah-COO-stic New-ROH-mah
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 relatively slowly. It is a benign tumor which means it is not cancerous. However, this condition can still cause serious problems.
Factors that may increase your chance of an acoustic neuroma include:
The first symptoms of an acoustic neuroma include:
As the neuroma gradually grows larger, symptoms may include:
If headaches or mental confusion occurs, the tumor may be life threatening. Call your doctor right away.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. Your ears will be examined. Your doctor will also do tests for your nervous system. Tests may include:
Treatment depends on your age, general health, the size and location of the tumor, and its rate of growth. Treatment may include:
If the tumor is very small, your doctor may just monitor its growth. This is common among people over age 70.
As the tumor grows and/or hearing becomes impaired, removal of the tumor may be necessary. 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 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 one large dose. You may be treated with a procedure called stereotactic radiosurgery. This surgery uses a beam of radiation to destroy the tumor tissue.
There are no guidelines for preventing acoustic neuroma because the cause is not usually known.
Acoustic Neuroma Association
American Academy of Audiology
Canadian Academy of Audiology
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Acoustic Neuroma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated July 18, 2012. Accessed August 30, 2012.
American Hearing Research Foundation. Available at: http://american-hearing.org/disorders/acoustic-neuroma. Accessed August 30, 2012.
Vestibular Disorders Association. Available at: http://vestibular.org/acoustic-neuroma. Accessed August 30, 2012.
Merritt H, Rowland L. Merritt’s Neurology. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2000.
What is acoustic neuroma? Acoustic Neuroma Association website. Available at: http://www.anausa..... Accessed July 9, 2009.
Last reviewed October 2012 by Rimas Lukas, MD