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Acoustic neuroma, also referred to as vestibular schwannoma, is a noncancerous tumor that may develop from an overproduction of Schwann cells that press on the hearing and balance nerves in the inner ear. Schwann cells are cells that normally wrap around and support nerve fibers. If the tumor becomes large, it can press on the facial nerve or brain structure.
The following are the most common symptoms of acoustic neuroma. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.
When a neuroma develops, it may cause any/all of the following:
The symptoms of acoustic neuroma may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
There are two types of acoustic neuromas:
Because symptoms of acoustic neuromas resemble other middle and inner ear conditions, they may be difficult to diagnose. Preliminary diagnostic procedures include an ear examination and a hearing test. Computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scans help to determine the location and size of the tumor.
Early diagnosis offers the best opportunity for successful treatment.
Specific treatment for acoustic neuroma will be determined by your physician based on:
Treatment may include observation, surgery, or radiation. Surgery for larger tumors is complicated by the probable damage to hearing, balance, and facial nerves. Another treatment option is radiosurgery, often called the "gamma knife," using carefully focused radiation to reduce the size or limit the growth of the tumor.