MediFind
Condition

Acoustic Neuroma

Condition 101

What is the definition of Acoustic Neuroma?

An acoustic neuroma is a slow-growing tumor of the nerve that connects the ear to the brain. This nerve is called the vestibular cochlear nerve. It is behind the ear, right under the brain.

An acoustic neuroma is benign. This means that it does not spread to other parts of the body. However, it can damage several important nerves as it grows.

What are the alternative names for Acoustic Neuroma?

Vestibular schwannoma; Tumor - acoustic; Cerebellopontine angle tumor; Angle tumor; Hearing loss - acoustic; Tinnitus - acoustic

What are the causes for Acoustic Neuroma?

Acoustic neuromas have been linked with the genetic disorder neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2).

Acoustic neuromas are uncommon.

What are the symptoms for Acoustic Neuroma?

The symptoms vary, based on the size and location of the tumor. Because the tumor grows so slowly, symptoms most often start after age 30.

Common symptoms include:

  • Abnormal feeling of movement (vertigo)
  • Hearing loss in the affected ear that makes it hard to hear conversations
  • Ringing (tinnitus) in the affected ear

Less common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty understanding speech
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Loss of balance
  • Numbness in the face or one ear
  • Pain in the face or one ear
  • Weakness of the face or facial asymmetry

What are the current treatments for Acoustic Neuroma?

Treatment depends on the size and location of the tumor, your age, and your overall health. You and your provider must decide whether to watch the tumor without treatment, use radiation to stop it from growing, or try to remove it.

Many acoustic neuromas are small and grow very slowly. Small tumors with few or no symptoms may be watched for changes, especially in older people. Regular MRI scans will be done.

If not treated, some acoustic neuromas can:

  • Damage the nerves involved in hearing and balance
  • Place pressure on nearby brain tissue
  • Harm the nerves responsible for movement and feeling in the face
  • Lead to a buildup of fluid (hydrocephalus) in the brain (with very large tumors)

Removing an acoustic neuroma is more commonly done for:

  • Larger tumors
  • Tumors that are causing symptoms
  • Tumors that are growing quickly
  • Tumors that are pressing on the brain

Surgery or a type of radiation treatment is done to remove the tumor and prevent other nerve damage. Depending on the type of surgery performed, hearing can sometimes be preserved.

  • The surgical technique to remove an acoustic neuroma is called microsurgery. A special microscope and small, precise instruments are used. This technique offers a higher chance of cure.
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery focuses high-powered x-rays on a small area. It is a form of radiation therapy, not a surgical procedure. It may be used to slow down or stop the growth of tumors that are hard to remove with surgery. It may also be done to treat people who are unable to have surgery, such as older adults or people who are very sick.

Removing an acoustic neuroma can damage nerves. This may cause loss of hearing or weakness in the face muscles. This damage is more likely to occur when the tumor is large.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Acoustic Neuroma?

An acoustic neuroma is not cancer. The tumor does not spread to other parts of the body. However, it may continue to grow and press on structures in the skull.

People with small, slow-growing tumors may not need treatment.

Hearing loss present before treatment is not likely to return after surgery or radiosurgery. In cases of smaller tumors, hearing loss that occurs after surgery may return.

Most people with small tumors will have no permanent weakness of the face after surgery. However, people with large tumors are more likely to have some permanent weakness of the face after surgery.

Signs of nerve damage such as loss of hearing or weakness of the face may be delayed after radiosurgery.

In most cases, brain surgery can completely remove the tumor.

When should I contact a medical professional for Acoustic Neuroma?

Call your provider if you have:

  • Hearing loss that is sudden or getting worse
  • Ringing in one ear
  • Dizziness (vertigo)

REFERENCES

Arriaga MA, Brackmann DE. Neoplasms of the posterior fossa. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 177.

Baloh RW, Jen J. Hearing and equilibrium. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 428.

Welling DB, Spear SA, Packer MD. Stereotactic radiation treatment of benign tumors of the cranial base. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 179.

Latest Research

Latest Advance
Study
  • Condition: Primary Glioblastoma
  • Journal: BMC cancer
  • Treatment Used: VEGF Receptors Peptide Vaccine
  • Number of Patients: 2
  • Published —
This study evaluated the synergistic activity of the combination of VEGFRs peptide vaccination with chemotherapy in patients with primary glioblastoma (brain tumor).
Latest Advance
Study
  • Condition: Middle-ear cholesteatoma with labyrinthine fistula and vestibular schwannoma
  • Journal: European archives of oto-rhino-laryngology : official journal of the European Federation of Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Societies (EUFOS) : affiliated with the German Society for Oto-Rhino-Laryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
  • Treatment Used: Canal wall-down surgery followed by gamma knife radiosurgery
  • Number of Patients: 1
  • Published —
The study researched a case of middle-ear cholesteatoma with labyrinthine fistula and vestibular schwannoma.
Latest Advance
Study
  • Condition: Sporadic Vestibular Schwannoma
  • Journal: Otology & neurotology : official publication of the American Otological Society, American Neurotology Society [and] European Academy of Otology and Neurotology
  • Treatment Used: Tacrolimus
  • Number of Patients: 1
  • Published —
This case report describes a patient with sporadic vestibular schwannoma that was treated with tacrolimus.
Latest Advance
Study
  • Condition: Vestibular Schwannoma (VS)
  • Journal: Neurology India
  • Treatment Used: Microsurgery Post-Radiosurgery
  • Number of Patients: 16
  • Published —
This study analyzed functional outcomes and technical challenges associated with the microsurgery following radiosurgery of vestibular schwannoma (benign tumor; VS).

Clinical Trials

Clinical Trial
Drug
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Study Type: Drug
  • Participants: 80
  • Start Date: June 20, 2020
Innovative Trial for Understanding the Impact of Targeted Therapies in NF2 (INTUITT-NF2)
Clinical Trial
Drug
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Study Type: Drug
  • Participants: 19
  • Start Date: February 18, 2020
Open-label, Phase 2 Clinical Trial of Crizotinib for Children and Adults With Neurofibromatosis Type 2 and Progressive Vestibular Schwannomas
Clinical Trial
Other
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Participants: 32
  • Start Date: November 20, 2019
Evaluation of Acupuncture Effects for Complications After Surgery of Cerebellopontine Angle Tumor in Skull Base