An acoustic neuroma, also known as a vestibular schwannoma, is a rare, noncancerous tumor that often affects middle-aged people. It usually grows slowly—or not at all—and is caused by an overproduction of Schwann cells. If the acoustic neuroma tumor grows rapidly, it may become large enough to press against the facial nerve or the brain and interfere with vital brain functions
What causes acoustic neuroma?
Continuous exposure to loud noise, such as music or work-related noise, and neck or face radiation can cause acoustic neuroma. Acoustic neuromas can also be the result of a disease called neurofibromatosis type 3 (NF2). NF2 can be inherited, and individuals with the condition could be at greater risk to develop an acoustic neuroma. About 95% of acoustic neuromas occur spontaneously without any evidence of family history.
Acoustic neuroma symptoms
Common acoustic neuroma symptoms include:
- Hearing loss on the side of the tumor
- Ringing in the ear (tinnitus) on the side of the tumor
- Balance problems
- Mental confusion
- Facial numbness and tingling with possible paralysis of a facial nerve, though this is rare
What kinds of treatments are available for an acoustic neuroma?
Acoustic neuroma treatment differs depending on the patient's age, health history and the size of the tumor. Treatment options for an acoustic neuroma include:
- Radiation—This can be used to reduce the size and limit the growth of the tumor.
- Surgery—This can be complicated for larger tumors due to potentially damaging the your hearing, balance or facial nerves. Acoustic Neuromas can often be removed completely with surgery.
- Observation—Some acoustic neuromas are so small and slow-growing that they may not need immediate treatment and can simply be observed for potential changes.