Acoustic Neuroma

(Neurilemoma; Vestibular Schwannoma; Acoustic Schwannoma)

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
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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 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 or eyes. These may include:
  • Audiogram
  • Auditory brainstem response test
  • Electronystagmography

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