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Ear, Nose, and Throat - Otology, Neurotology, & Skull Base Surgery

Acoustic Neuroma

What is acoustic neuroma?

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.

What are the symptoms of acoustic neuroma?

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 or all of the following:

  • Hearing loss
  • Feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Tinnitus. A ringing in the ear.
  • Dizziness
  • Balance problems
  • Facial numbness and tingling with possible, though rare, paralysis of a facial nerve
  • Headaches, clumsy gait, and mental confusion may be life-threatening conditions and require immediate treatment

The symptoms of acoustic neuroma may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.

What are the different types of acoustic neuromas?

There are two types of acoustic neuromas:

  • Unilateral acoustic neuromas. This type affects only one ear. This tumor may be diagnosed at any age, but most often between the ages of 30 and 60.  .
  • Bilateral acoustic neuromas. This type affects both ears and is hereditary, caused by a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis-2.

How are acoustic neuromas diagnosed?

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. Magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRI) help to determine the location and size of the tumor.

Early diagnosis offers the best opportunity for successful treatment.

Treatment for acoustic neuroma

Specific treatment for acoustic neuroma will be determined by your MUSC neurotologist based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Tumor size
  • Hearing ability
  • Expectations for the course of the disease
  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include observation, surgery, or radiation. Your MUSC neurotologists have all received specialized training to manage acoustic neuromas. Please request an appointment to see one of our specialists if you have been diagnosed or have symptoms concerning for an acoustic neuroma.


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To Schedule an Appointment or Refer a Patient:

Phone: 843-792-3277