Acoustic neuroma (also known as vestibular schwannoma) is a noncancerous tumor that starts in Schwann cells, which wrap around peripheral nerves in your ear. These tumors grow slowly and can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages because signs and symptoms may be easy to miss and associated with other common inner ear issues. Acoustic neuroma can also cause hearing loss and balance problems.
Our Approach to Treating Acoustic Neuroma
Treatment may vary depending on the size and growth of the acoustic neuroma, severity of symptoms, and overall health. If the tumor is small and isn’t growing or growing slowly, your physician may recommend monitoring the tumor over time.
If your acoustic neuroma tumor is very large, continues to grow, or is causing symptoms, your neurosurgeon may recommend surgery. The goal of removing an acoustic neuroma is to preserve the facial nerve to prevent facial paralysis. If the entire tumor cannot be removed, other treatment options will be recommended.
We use radiation therapy as an alternative to surgery to treat acoustic neuroma to preserve the facial nerve’s function and help preserve hearing. We may also use stereotactic radiosurgery to treat small tumors, which is a treatment that uses a highly focused beam of radiation to target tumor cells while leaving surrounding tissue unaffected.
Often patients experience vestibular problems and require therapies to address symptoms or complications such as dizziness or balance problems. Supportive services may be recommended by your physician and care team, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, or vestibular therapy.