What is an acoustic neuroma?

An acoustic neuroma, also called a vestibular schwannoma, is a non-cancerous tumor that develops around the balance and hearing nerves that connect the inner ear with the brain. These tumors usually grow slowly over years. However, in some patients, the tumor can grow more rapidly. If the tumor becomes large, it can affect other nearby nerves that affect facial movement, sensation, and expression. Large tumors can also press against brain structures that control vital functions (such as breathing, heart rate, and consciousness) and become life threatening.

What are the symptoms of an acoustic neuroma?

Early symptoms include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)/ear noise – high buzzing pitch
  • Loss off balance
  • Feeling of movement (vertigo)

As the tumor grows, other symptoms develop including:

  • Dizziness
  • Loss of sharpness of vision, double vision
  • Numbness, weakness, spasms, pain, or paralysis of the face
  • Taste changes
  • Headaches
  • Change in behavior
  • Nausea, vomiting

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/06/2017.

References

  • Johnson J, Lalwani AK. Chapter 61. Vestibular Schwannoma (Acoustic Neuroma). In: Lalwani AK. eds. CURRENT Diagnosis & Treatment in Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery, 3e. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2012.
  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Vestibular schwannona (acoustic neuroma) and neurofibromatosis Accessed 12/1/2016.
  • Acoustic Neuroma Association. Accessed 12/1/2016.
  • Acoustic Neuroma Association. Treatment options Accessed 12/1/2016.
  • Vestibular Disorders Association. Acoustic neuroma Accessed 12/1/2016.
  • Heman-Ackah SE, Golfinos JG, Roland JT. Management of surgical complications and failures in acoustic neuroma surgery. Otolaryngol Clin N Am 2012;45:455-470.

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