Acoustic neuroma is a rare
noncancerous tumor. It grows slowly from an overproduction of Schwann cells and is also
called a vestibular schwannoma. The tumor then presses on the hearing and balance nerves
in the inner ear. Schwann cells normally wrap around and support nerve fibers. A large
tumor can press on the facial nerve, which controls facial muscles and sensation. Or it
can press on brain structures.
There are 2 types of acoustic neuromas:
Acoustic neuroma can be caused by:
People who have a disease called neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) are at higher risk. NF2 can run in families.
These are the most common symptoms of acoustic neuroma:
The symptoms of acoustic neuroma may look like other conditions or health problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Acoustic neuromas look like other
middle and inner ear problems. They may be hard to diagnose. An ear exam and a hearing
test are often done first. A CT scan and MRI can help to find and measure the tumor.
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It
will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Treatment may include watching and
waiting, surgery, or radiation. Surgery for larger tumors can damage hearing, balance,
and facial nerves. Another treatment choice is radiosurgery, often called the gamma
knife. This uses focused radiation to reduce the size or blunt the growth of the
If the tumor gets big enough, it can press against the brain stem. This can affect neurological function or even become life-threatening.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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