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Lahey Health is now part of Beth Israel Lahey Health

by Badash M
(Neurilemoma; Acoustic Schwannoma; Acoustic Neuroma)

Definition

A vestibular schwannoma is a tumor that grows on the 8th cranial nerve. This nerve runs from the brainstem to the ear. It plays a role in hearing and balance. It is not cancer, but it can cause problems with hearing and put pressure on the brainstem.

The Acoustic Nerve
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Causes

This problem is caused by faulty genes. It is not known why this happens.

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in people who are 50 to 55 years of age. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • A personal or family history of neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2)—a condition that causes tumors to grow on nerves
  • Loud noise exposure

Symptoms

A vestibular schwannoma grows slowly. Problems start slowly and get worse over time. They may be:

  • Gradual hearing loss in one ear
  • Ringing in the affected ear—tinnitus
  • Balance problems
  • Dizziness
  • A feeling of spinning when a person is still— vertigo
  • Facial numbness and tingling

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on your ears.

Images will be taken. This can be done with:

Treatment

Treatment will depend on the size, location, and growth rate of the tumor. People with a tumor that is not causing problems may be monitored.

People with tumors that are causing problems may need:

Surgery

The tumor may be removed through surgery. It may result in permanent hearing loss or facial paralysis.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is the use of radiation to kill abnormal cells and shrink tumors. It may also stop the tumor from growing. It may be done when the tumor cannot be removed through surgery.

Options are:

  • Conventional fractioned radiation therapy given over several treatments or as one large dose
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) using a focused beam of radiation to destroy tumor tissue in and around the brain.

Prevention

There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.

RESOURCES

Acoustic Neuroma Association  https://www.anausa.org 

American Academy of Audiology  https://www.audiology.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Academy of Audiology  https://canadianaudiology.ca 

The College of Family Physicians of Canada  http://www.cfpc.ca 

References

Acoustic neuroma. American Hearing Research Foundation. Available at: http://american-hearing.org/disorders/acoustic-neuroma. Accessed July 16, 2021.

Acoustic neuroma. VEDA website. Available at: http://vestibular.org/acoustic-neuroma. Accessed July 16, 2021.

Vestibular schwannoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/vestibular-schwannoma. Accessed July 16, 2021.

What is acoustic neuroma? Acoustic Neuroma Association website. Available at: https://www.anausa.org/learn-about-acoustic-neuroma/what-is-acoustic-neuroma. Accessed July 16, 2021.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 07/2021
  • Update Date: 07/16/2021