Acoustic Neuroma

An acoustic neuroma is a tumor that forms from the covering of the eighth cranial nerve. This tumor is benign and does not spread to other parts of the body. The acoustic neuroma is generally a slow-growing tumor.

What are the symptoms of acoustic neuroma?
The most common first symptom is hearing loss in the affected ear, which may often go unrecognized or mistaken as a normal change of aging. As an acoustic neuroma enlarges, it may cause additional symptoms such as loss of balance, headache, unsteadiness, facial weakness, facial numbness and/or double vision.

What causes acoustic neuromas?
The cause is unknown. Acoustic neuromas can be sporadic or caused by an inherited condition called neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF-2) (also known as von Recklinghausen’s disease). Acoustic neuromas have a 5 percent association with von Recklinghausens’s disease (NF-2), a rare disease characterized by multiple tumors in various sites, especially the skin, which can cause bilateral acoustic tumors.

Who is affected?
Acoustic neuromas affect about 10 people in one million. More women than men are affected; they are usually diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60 years.

How is an acoustic neuroma treated?
Since the larger the tumor, the more complex the treatment, early recognition, diagnosis and treatment are essential. Usually, a neurosurgeon and an otologist will collaborate to remove the tumor in a surgical procedure. Depending on factors such as hearing loss, tumor size, tumor position, etc., the physicians will choose the most effective surgical approach.

The goal of tumor removal is to restore the patient’s balance, facial function and sensation, and vision. However, because the tumor is wrapped around the nerve responsible for hearing, hearing loss is usually permanent. There are risks associated with the surgery and we encourage you to discuss these risks with your physician.

Following the surgery, you may experience headache, nausea, unsteadiness or lack of coordination. These symptoms usually subside over a period of weeks. Your physician will discuss with you whether physical, occupational, or speech therapy will be needed.