• Acoustic Neuroma

    (Neurilemoma; Vestibular Schwannoma; Acoustic Schwannoma)


    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
    Nucleus factsheet image
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


    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:


    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.


    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


    Treatment depends on your age, general health, the size and location of the tumor, and its rate of growth. Treatment may include:


    If the tumor is very small, its growth may be monitored. Sometimes tumors do not grow any more. This is approach is common among people over age 70.

    Microsurgical Removal

    As the tumor grows and/or hearing becomes impaired, removal of the tumor may be needed. The type of surgery depends on the size and location of the tumor. Complications of surgery may include permanent hearing loss and/or paralysis of facial muscles on the affected side.

    Radiation Therapy

    Radiation therapy is the use of radiation to kill cells and shrink tumors. Radiation is expected to prevent further growth of the tumor. Radiation may be used when tumors are small and surgery is not possible. This method may preserve hearing. It may be given over several treatments or as one large dose. You may be treated with a procedure called stereotactic radiosurgery. This surgery uses a focused beam of radiation to destroy the tumor tissue.


    There are no current guidelines for preventing acoustic neuroma.


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

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


    Canadian Academy of Audiology http://www.canadianaudiology.ca

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


    Acoustic neuroma. American Hearing Research Foundation. Available at: http://american-hearing.org/disorders/acoustic-neuroma. Updated October 2012. Accessed August 8, 2014.

    Acoustic neuroma. Vestibular Disorders Association. Available at: http://vestibular.org/acoustic-neuroma. Accessed August 8, 2014.

    What is acoustic neuroma? Acoustic Neuroma Association website. Available at: https://www.anausa.org/index.php/overview/what-is-acoustic-neuroma. Accessed August 8, 2014.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.