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Acoustic neuroma

Contents of this page:


Central nervous system
Central nervous system

Alternative Names    Return to top

Vestibular schwannoma; Tumor - acoustic; Cerebellopontine angle tumor; Angle tumor

Definition    Return to top

An acoustic neuroma is a noncancerous (benign), often slow-growing tumor of the nerve that connects the ear to the brain.

Causes    Return to top

These tumors are thought to occur when there is a defect in a gene that normally prevents tumors from forming. The cause of the genetic defect is not known. However, acoustic neuroma is often linked with the genetic disorder neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2).

Acoustic neuromas are relatively uncommon, but they are one of the most common types of brain tumors.

The tumor is usually found at the base of the brain.

Symptoms    Return to top

The symptoms vary based on the size and location of the tumor. Because the tumors grow so slowly, symptoms usually start after the age of 30.

Common symptoms include:

Less common symptoms include:

Exams and Tests    Return to top

The health care provider may diagnose an acoustic neuroma based on your medical history, an examination of your nervous system, or tests. A physical examination may show the following signs:

If the tumor is large, there may also be signs of increased pressure on the brain (increased intracranial pressure), including the following:

The most useful test to identify acoustic neuromas is an MRI of the head. Other useful tests used to diagnose acoustic neuroma and to tell it apart from other causes of dizziness or vertigo include:

Treatment    Return to top

Outlook (Prognosis)    Return to top

Acoustic neuromas are not cancer. They do not spread (metastasize) to other body systems, but they may continue to grow and press down on important structures in the skull.

Possible Complications    Return to top

When to Contact a Medical Professional    Return to top

Call your health care provider if you experience new or worsening hearing loss or vertigo (dizziness).

References    Return to top

Abram S, Rosenblatt P, Holcomb S. Stereotactic radiation techniques in the treatment of acoustic schwannomas. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2007;40:571-588.

Bennett M, Haynes DS. Surgical approaches and complications in the removal of vestibular schwannomas. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2007;40:589-609.

Backous DD, Pham HT. Guiding patients through the choices for treating vestibular schwannomas: balancing options and ensuring informed consent. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2007;40:521-540.

Update Date: 4/23/2008

Updated by: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery and Gene Therapeutics Research Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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