Acoustic Neuroma

This information is useful for adults
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Why Yale Medicine?
  • Our experienced, multidisciplinary team of doctors have unparalleled clinical expertise in treating patients with acoustic neuromas in state-of-the-art facilities with cutting edge technology, not only in the state of Connecticut, but beyond.
  • Our doctors are able to determine which tumors can be managed with close follow-up or when intervention is needed.
  • If surgery is not the best option, or not what the patient wants, we are able to perform focused radiosurgery with Gamma Knife Radiosurgery, if appropriate.

Acoustic neuromas, also known as vestibular schwannomas, arise from the hearing and balance nerve. While some patients have no noticeable symptoms or problems, others complain of dizzy spells, vertigo, trouble hearing, facial numbness and sometimes weakness and swallowing difficulties. Though most acoustic neuromas are benign and confined to the inner ear canal, some grow larger and push on the brainstem, which can be life-threatening. 

Doctors have refined how they handle acoustic neuromas over the years, to a point where “treatment is very successful in the right hands, using a fairly standardized approach for when to observe, operate or radiate a tumor,” says Jennifer Moliterno, MD, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Yale School of Medicine. “When surgery is necessary, our goal is to remove as much of the acoustic neuroma as safely possible without causing permanent weakness to the face. Because our surgeons perform both surgery and radiosurgery, we are able to combine the use of both, leading to better outcomes.”

An acoustic neuroma is a growth on the vestibular nerve, anywhere along the area where the nerve exits the brainstem at the base of the skull and enters the ear canal.

“Neuromas” is actually a misnomer as these tumors are actually schwannomas. (Doctors may use the terms “acoustic neuroma” and “vestibular schwannoma” interchangeably.) By definition, a schwannoma is any slow-growing and benign tumor that originates in a certain type of cell, called a Schwann cell. They most commonly develop on the hearing and balance nerve, also known as Cranial Nerve (CN) 8, but they can also arise from some of the other nerves in the head and spine. The 12 CNs, which originate in the brain and lead to the head, neck, and body, control various important senses and responses.