(Neurilemoma; Vestibular Schwannoma; Acoustic Schwannoma)
DefinitionAn 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|
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CausesThe exact cause of acoustic neuroma is unknown.
Risk FactorsAcoustic neuroma is most common between ages 30-60. Factors that may increase your chance of an acoustic neuroma include:
- History of neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2)
- Family history of NF2
- Long term exposure to loud sounds
SymptomsThe 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
- Balance problems
- Facial numbness and tingling
- Weakness of the facial muscles on the side of the tumor
DiagnosisYou 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:
- Auditory brainstem response test
TreatmentTreatment depends on your age, general health, the size and location of the tumor, and its rate of growth. Treatment may include:
ObservationIf 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 RemovalAs 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 TherapyRadiation 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.
PreventionThere are no current 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. 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.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014
- Update Date: 08/08/2014
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