Description

Causes

Acoustic neuroma (schwannoma)The cause of acoustic neuromas — tumors on the main balance nerves leading from your inner ear to your brain (eighth cranial nerve) — appears to be a malfunctioning gene on chromosome 22. Normally, this gene produces a protein that helps control the growth of Schwann cells covering the nerves. What makes this gene malfunction isn't clear, and currently there are no known risk factors for getting an acoustic neuroma.Scientists do know the faulty gene is inherited in neurofibromatosis type 2, a rare disorder that usually involves the growth of tumors on balance nerves on both sides of your head (bilateral vestibular schwannomas).SymptomsRisk factorsShareTweet

ClinicalTrials

Complications

An acoustic neuroma may cause a variety of permanent complications, including: Hearing loss Facial numbness and weakness Difficulties with balance Ringing in the ear Large tumors may press on your brainstem, preventing the normal flow of fluid between your brain and spinal cord (cerebrospinal fluid). In this case, fluid can build up in your head (hydrocephalus), increasing the pressure inside your skull.Risk factorsPreparing for your appointmentShareTweet

Appointment

Diagnosis

We take the time to listen, to find answers and to provide you the best care. Because signs and symptoms of acoustic neuroma are likely to develop gradually and because symptoms such as hearing loss can be indicators of other middle and inner ear problems, it may be difficult for your doctor to detect the tumor in its early stages.After asking questions about your symptoms, your doctor will conduct an ear exam. Your doctor may order the following tests: Hearing test (audiometry). In this test, conducted by a hearing specialist (audiologist), you hear sounds directed to one ear at a time. The audiologist presents a range of sounds of various tones and asks you to indicate each time you hear the sound. Each tone is repeated at faint levels to find out when you can barely hear. The audiologist may also present various words to determine your hearing ability. Scans. Contrasted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT) scans of your head can provide images that confirm the presence of an acoustic neuroma. Hearing test (audiometry). In this test, conducted by a hearing specialist (audiologist), you hear sounds directed to one ear at a time. The audiologist presents a range of sounds of various tones and asks you to indicate each time you hear the sound. Each tone is repeated at faint levels to find out when you can barely hear.The audiologist may also present various words to determine your hearing ability. Preparing for your appointment Treatments and drugs

Experience

Research

RiskFactors

Autosomal dominant inheritance patternThe only known risk factor for acoustic neuroma is having a parent with the rare genetic disorder neurofibromatosis type 2, but this accounts for only a small number of cases. A hallmark characteristic of neurofibromatosis type 2 is the development of benign tumors on the balance nerves on both sides of your head, as well as on other nerves.Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) is known as an autosomal dominant disorder, meaning that the mutation can be passed on by just one parent (dominant gene). Each child of an affected parent has a 50-50 chance of inheriting it.Another possible risk factor that may be associated with acoustic neuroma includes childhood exposure to low-dose radiation of the head and neck.CausesComplicationsShareTweet

Speciality

At Mayo Clinic, we take the time to listen, to find answers and to provide you the best care.Acoustic neuroma (schwannoma)Mayo Clinic in Minnesota has been recognized as the best Neurology & Neurosurgery hospital in the nation for 2016-2017 by U.S. News & World Report.Acoustic neuroma is an uncommon, noncancerous (benign) and usually slow-growing tumor that develops on the main nerve leading from your inner ear to your brain. Because branches of this nerve directly influence your balance and hearing, pressure from an acoustic neuroma can cause hearing loss, ringing in your ear and unsteadiness.Also known as vestibular schwannoma, acoustic neuroma usually grows slowly or not at all. However, in a few cases, it may grow rapidly and become large enough to press against the brain and interfere with vital functions.Treatments for acoustic neuroma include regular monitoring, radiation and surgical removal.SymptomsShareTweet

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of acoustic neuroma develop from direct effects on the main nerve or from the tumor pressing on adjacent nerves, nearby blood vessels or brain structures.As the tumor grows, it may be more likely to cause signs and symptoms, although tumor size doesn't always determine effects. It's possible for a small tumor to cause significant signs and symptoms.You may experience signs and symptoms such as: Hearing loss, usually gradual — although in some cases sudden — and occurring on only one side or more pronounced on one side Ringing (tinnitus) in the affected ear Unsteadiness, loss of balance Dizziness (vertigo) Facial numbness and very rarely, weakness In rare cases, an acoustic neuroma may grow large enough to compress the brainstem and threaten your life.See your doctor if you notice hearing loss in one ear, ringing in your ear or trouble with your balance. Early diagnosis of an acoustic neuroma may help keep the tumor from growing large enough to cause serious consequences, such as total hearing loss or a life-threatening buildup of fluid within your skull.DefinitionCausesShareTweet

SymptomsAndCauses

Treatment

You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. Your doctor may then refer you to a doctor trained in ear, nose and throat conditions (otorhinolaryngologist) or a doctor trained in brain and nervous system surgery (neurosurgeon).Because there's often a lot to talk about during your appointment, it's a good idea to be well-prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor. Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment. Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking. Ask a family member or friend to join you, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot. Write down questions to ask your doctor. Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For acoustic neuroma, some basic questions to ask your doctor include: What is likely causing my symptoms? Are there any other possible causes for my symptoms? What kinds of tests do I need? What treatment options are available? Which one do you recommend for me? What is the likelihood of side effects from each treatment option? What happens if I do nothing? Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting? In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask: When did you first begin experiencing symptoms? Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional? How severe are your symptoms? Do you have any family members with an acoustic neuroma? At its current level, do you feel the hearing in the affected ear is useful to you in any way? For example, can you use that ear on the telephone, or does that ear help you tell where sound is coming from? Do you have regular headaches currently or have you had them in the past? ComplicationsTests and diagnosisShareTweet