is a noncancerous tumor. It grows on the acoustic nerve, which runs from the brain to the ear. This type of tumor typically grows slowly. It may cause hearing loss, balance problems, facial numbness, and headaches.
The Acoustic Nerve
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There are 3 main treatment options for an acoustic neuroma: Careful monitoring
Radiation therapyMicrosurgical removal
This fact sheet focuses on microsurgical removal.
Microsurgical removal is done when: The tumor is growingThere is concern that the tumor size may become life-threateningThe tumor is causing hearing problems or neurologic symptoms
A successful procedure results in complete removal of the tumor with minimal additional hearing loss.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Potential problems include: Hearing lossExcessive eye drynessDifficulty with balance
Ringing in the ears—tinnitusFacial weakness and numbness on the side of the tumorHeadachesBleeding
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include: SmokingIncreased ageSize of the tumor
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
The type of surgical procedure will depend on your condition. Factors such as hearing status and the size and location of the tumor will be considered. One of the following surgical methods will be selected:
This approach is often used when you already have significant hearing loss. The mastoid bone in the skull and bone in the inner ear will be removed. This allows access to the ear canal and the tumor.
An opening will be made in the skull behind the ear. It makes it easier to see and protect the nerves during surgery.
The tumor will be removed from the upper surface of the ear canal. This approach is used when there is a good chance that hearing may be maintained.
You will spend at least one night in the intensive care unit for care and observation.
The surgery takes about 6-12 hours. The exact length will depend on the size and location of the tumor.
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
The usual length of stay is 4-7 days. Your stay may be longer if there are complications.
During recovery, you may have some of the following: Headache and head discomfortFatigue and sleepinessLightheadednessNauseaEmotional lows
Staff will help you manage these problems.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as: Washing their handsWearing gloves or masksKeeping your incisions covered
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as: Washing your hands often and reminding your healthcare providers to do the sameReminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masksNot allowing others to touch your incision
When you get home, you may have to adjust your activity level while you recover. This may take 4-6 weeks. Home care will include caring for the surgical wound to prevent infection.
will be done regularly over the next several years. The scans will check to see if the tumor returns.
It is important for you to monitor your recovery after you leave the hospital. Alert your doctor to any problems right away. If any of the following occur, call your doctor: Signs of infection, including fever, chills, and neck stiffnessWorsening headache, balance problems, or hearing lossRedness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision sitePersistent nausea or vomitingPain that you cannot control with the medications you were givenRunny nose
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Acoustic neuroma. American Hearing Research Foundation. Available at:
http://american-hearing.org/disorders/acoustic-neuroma. Updated October 2012. Accessed August 8, 2014.
Vestibular Disorders Association. Available at:
http://vestibular.org/acoustic-neuroma. Accessed August 8, 2014.
Bennett M, Haynes DS. Surgical approaches and complications in the removal of vestibular schwannomas.
Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2007;40(3):589-609.
What is acoustic neuroma? Acoustic Neuroma Association website. Available at:
https://www.anausa.org/index.php/overview/what-is-acoustic-neuroma. Accessed August 8, 2014.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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