What is acoustic neuroma?

Acoustic neuroma is a tumor occurring in the nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain. It is a benign tumor, but it can eventually lead to hearing loss because the tumor presses against the auditory nerve. This nerve, which is also known as the eighth cranial nerve, or the vestibulocochlear nerve, transmits information about sound and balance to the brain. Acoustic neuroma is a relatively rare condition, affecting two persons out of 100,000, and typically occurs in people between the ages of 30 and 60. Acoustic neuroma is also known as vestibular schwannoma (Source: ANAUSA).

Acoustic neuroma is caused by a defect that results in the irregular growth of Schwann cells, which are a type of supporting cell in the nervous system. In some people, acoustic neuromas may be caused by a genetic predisposition. In others, the cause is not known.

If your tumor is very small and does not cause symptoms, your doctor may choose to watch and wait, that is, to monitor the tumor carefully to ensure that it does not grow. Radiation and surgery are other treatment options. Treatment is necessary if there is a possibility that the tumor may grow and press against your brainstem, which could cause serious complications.

Although acoustic neuroma is benign and grows slowly, it can produce disturbing symptoms. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any serious symptoms, including hearing loss in one or both ears, dizziness, loss of muscle coordination, or numbness on both sides of the face.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of acoustic neuroma?

Hearing loss is the primary symptom of acoustic neuroma. Since the ears affect our sense of balance, your coordination may also be impaired. Symptoms are usually mild at first and increase in intensity as the disease progresses.... Read more about acoustic neuromasymptoms

CAUSES

What causes acoustic neuroma?

Acoustic neuroma is caused by a defect that results in the irregular growth of Schwann cells, a type of supporting cell in the nervous system. In some cases, there appears to be a genetic predisposition to developing the condition, while in other cases, the cause is not known.... Read more about acoustic neuromacauses

TREATMENTS

How is acoustic neuroma treated?

Treatment for acoustic neuroma includes observation and monitoring, radiation, and surgery. The location and size of the tumor will determine the type of treatment. A tumor that is small and causes few symptoms might be watched carefully and monitored with periodic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.... Read more about acoustic neuromatreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves