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Vestibular Schwannoma (Acoustic Neuroma)

Tumor, usually benign, which may develop on the hearing and balance nerves. Can cause gradual hearing loss, tinnitus, and/or dizziness.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders)

About Vestibular Schwannoma (Acoustic Neuroma)

A vestibular schwannoma (also known as acoustic neuroma, acoustic neurinoma, or acoustic neurilemoma) is a benign, usually slow-growing tumor that develops from the balance and hearing nerves supplying the inner ear. The tumor comes from an overproduction of Schwann cells--the cells that normally wrap around nerve fibers like onion skin to help support and insulate nerves.

As the vestibular schwannoma grows, it presses against the hearing and balance nerves, usually causing unilateral (one-sided) or asymmetric hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), and dizziness/loss of balance. As the tumor grows, it can interfere with the face sensation nerve (the trigeminal nerve), causing facial numbness.

Vestibular schwannomas can also press on the facial nerve (for the muscles of the face) causing facial weakness or paralysis on the side of the tumor. If the tumor becomes large, it will eventually press against nearby brain structures (such as the brainstem and the cerebellum), becoming life-threatening....Read more about Vestibular Schwannoma
NIH - National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Stereotactic radiotherapy for the treatment of vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma)

Vestibular schwannomas, also known as acoustic neuromas, are benign tumours of the eighth cranial nerve (responsible for hearing and balance). They can be treated by surgery or stereotactic radiotherapy (precisely delivered, focused brain irradiation), or just kept under observation because they may grow quite slowly or may not grow at all.

The role of magnetic resonance imaging in the identification of suspected acoustic neuroma: a systematic review of clinical and cost effectiveness and natural history

Advances in technology within health care should lead us to continually question the most effective methods for investigation, diagnosis, intervention and rehabilitation. Recent advances in imaging techniques raise questions of clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness in many areas of health care. This report aims to address some of these questions in the identification of acoustic neuroma.


ABR in the diagnosis of vestibular schwannomas: a meta-analysis

PURPOSE: The aim of this study is to rigorously evaluate the role of auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing in the diagnosis of vestibular schwannomas (VS).

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Summaries for consumers

Stereotactic radiotherapy for the treatment of vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma)

Vestibular schwannomas, also known as acoustic neuromas, are benign tumours of the eighth cranial nerve (responsible for hearing and balance). They can be treated by surgery or stereotactic radiotherapy (precisely delivered, focused brain irradiation), or just kept under observation because they may grow quite slowly or may not grow at all.

Vestibular rehabilitation to improve dizziness, balance and mobility in patients with unilateral peripheral vestibular dysfunction

People with vestibular problems often experience dizziness and trouble with vision, balance or mobility. The vestibular disorders that are called unilateral and peripheral (UPVD) are those that affect one side of the vestibular system (unilateral) and only the portion of the system that is outside of the brain (peripheral ‐ part of the inner ear). Examples of these disorders include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), vestibular neuritis, labyrinthitis, one‐sided Ménière's disease or vestibular problems following surgical procedures such as labyrinthectomy or removal of an acoustic neuroma. Vestibular rehabilitation for these disorders is becoming increasingly used and involves various movement‐based regimes. Components of vestibular rehabilitation may involve learning to bring on the symptoms to 'desensitise' the vestibular system, learning to co‐ordinate eye and head movements, improving balance and walking skills, and learning about the condition and how to cope or become more active.

Terms to know

Acoustic
Having to do with sound or hearing.
Balance (Equilibrium)
Biological system that enables individuals to know where their bodies are in the environment and to maintain a desired position. Normal balance depends on information from the labyrinth in the inner ear, from other senses such as sight and touch, and from muscle movement.
Benign
A process that is mild in nature and not dangerous to health. Not cancerous.
Hearing Loss
A general term for the complete or partial loss of the ability to hear from one or both ears.
Labyrinth (Vestibular System)
Organ of balance located in the inner ear. The labyrinth consists of three semicircular canals and the vestibule.
Nerves
A bundle of fibers that receives and sends messages between the body and the brain. The messages are sent by chemical and electrical changes in the cells that make up the nerves.
Schwann Cells
Schwann cells function to support neurons in the peripheral nervous system. Schwann cells wrap around axons to form the myelin sheath.
Tinnitus
Sensation of a ringing, roaring, or buzzing sound in the ears or head. It is often associated with many forms of hearing impairment and noise exposure.
Tumor (Neoplasm)
An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Neoplasms may be benign (not cancer), or malignant (cancer). Also called tumor.

More about Vestibular Schwannoma

Photo of an adult

Also called: Acoustic schwannoma, Acoustic neurinoma, Acoustic neurilemoma, AN

See Also: Neurofibromatosis Type 2

Other terms to know: See all 9
Acoustic, Balance (Equilibrium), Benign

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