Acoustic Neuroma

An acoustic neuroma is a tumor that grows on the nerve leading from the brainstem to the ear. This nerve plays a role in hearing and in maintaining your balance. An acoustic neuroma grows slowly. It is a benign tumor, which means it is not cancerous. However, this condition can still cause serious problems.

  • Causes

    The exact cause of acoustic neuroma is unknown.

  • Definition

    An acoustic neuroma is a tumor that grows on the nerve leading from the brainstem to the ear. This nerve plays a role in hearing and in maintaining your balance. An acoustic neuroma grows slowly. It is a benign tumor, which means it is not cancerous. However, this condition can still cause serious problems.

    The Ear
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  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. Your ears will be examined. Your doctor will also do tests of your nervous system.

    Images may be taken of your head. This can be done with:

    • MRI scan
    • CT scan

    Tests may be done on your ears. These may include:

    • Audiogram
    • Auditory brainstem response test
    • Electronystagmography

  • Prevention

    There are no current guidelines for preventing acoustic neuroma because the cause is not usually known.

  • Risk Factors

    Acoustic neuroma is most common between ages 30-60. Factors that may increase your chance of an acoustic neuroma include:


    • History of
      neurofibromatosis type 2
      (NF2)
    • Family history of NF2
    • Long term exposure to very loud sounds

  • Symptoms

    The first symptoms of an acoustic neuroma include:

    • Gradual hearing loss in one ear with near normal hearing in the other ear
    • Decrease in sound discrimination, especially when talking on the telephone

    • Ringing in the affected ear—tinnitus

    As the neuroma gradually grows larger, symptoms may include:

    • Balance problems
    • Facial numbness and tingling
    • Weakness of the facial muscles on the side of the tumor

    If headaches or mental confusion occurs, the tumor may be life threatening. Call your doctor right away.

  • Treatment

    Treatment depends on your age, general health, the size and location of the tumor, and its rate of growth. Treatment may include: