Acoustic Neuroma

Our highly-skilled tumor specialists provide advanced, personalized care to maximize your quality of life

Acoustic neuromas are rare, non-cancerous brain tumors that can affect your balance and hearing. Large acoustic neuromas press on the brainstem and can cause numbness of the face. They can cause hydrocephalus (excess fluid in the brain).

Because of the location near the facial nerve, everyone worries about preservation of facial nerve function. Our physicians design a management plan for you to preserve function and quality of life.

At IU Health, you can rest assured that our physicians have the skills and expertise to treat your acoustic neuroma.

At IU Health, you are more than just a diagnosis. We make sure you receive the most innovative, comprehensive treatment from the nation's most experienced tumor specialists. We also give you a customized treatment plan for your medical condition.

At IU Health, we take a team approach to your care. That means you have access to a full team of specialists working together to find the best treatment option for you and your tumor.

Your care team may include:

  • Neurotologist (Skull base surgeon)
  • Neurosurgeons
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Research specialists at Indiana University School of Medicine
  • Radiologists
  • Neuropathologists

Our Approach

At IU Health, you are more than just a diagnosis. We make sure you receive the most innovative, comprehensive treatment from the nation's most experienced tumor specialists. We also give you a customized treatment plan for your medical condition.

At IU Health, we take a team approach to your care. That means you have access to a full team of specialists working together to find the best treatment option for you and your tumor.

Your care team may include:

  • Neurotologist (Skull base surgeon)
  • Neurosurgeons
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Research specialists at Indiana University School of Medicine
  • Radiologists
  • Neuropathologists

Acoustic neuromas – also known as vestibular schwannoma – are a type of benign skull base tumor. These tumors grow along the balance (vestibular) nerves, which are very close to the hearing nerve and the facial nerve, which allows you to smile. Thus, these tumors have the potential to affect your balance and often cause hearing loss. If the tumors become large enough, they can compress the brainstem.

Acoustic neuroma tumors most often occur on one side of your brain, tend to be slow growing and do not metastasize to other portions of the body.

Approximately 4,000 acoustic neuroma tumors are diagnosed in the United States each year.

The most common symptoms include decreased hearing in one ear and ringing sound in the ear (called tinnitus). Other symptoms may include:

Yates

Understanding Acoustic Neuromas

Acoustic neuromas – also known as vestibular schwannoma – are a type of benign skull base tumor. These tumors grow along the balance (vestibular) nerves, which are very close to the hearing nerve and the facial nerve, which allows you to smile. Thus, these tumors have the potential to affect your balance and often cause hearing loss. If the tumors become large enough, they can compress the brainstem.

Acoustic neuroma tumors most often occur on one side of your brain, tend to be slow growing and do not metastasize to other portions of the body.

Approximately 4,000 acoustic neuroma tumors are diagnosed in the United States each year.

The most common symptoms include decreased hearing in one ear and ringing sound in the ear (called tinnitus). Other symptoms may include:

Yates

Just as every of tumor varies, treatment and management of acoustic neuromas vary. Our experts will create a patient-centered treatment plan best suited for you.

Acoustic neuroma management depend upon your age, health and tumor size and hearing level. Management options include observation, surgical removal and radiosurgery.

Observation

Some tumors can be observed for several months to determine the tumor growth pattern based upon MRI imaging. The average growth rate is 1-2 millimeters per year and some tumors do not grow. Although some acoustic neuromas do not grow, hearing loss in the tumor ear can still occur.

Surgical Removal

Preserving the facial nerve function is a top priority during surgical removal of acoustic neuromas. Preservation of serviceable hearing may also be a concern in smaller tumors.

Hearing preservation: In select cases, hearing preservation surgery can lead to favorable long-term results if you have a smaller tumor.

Large or growing tumors: Large tumors that compress the brainstem are often surgically removed. Tumors that display growth during observation may be treated with surgical removal.

Radiosurgery

Treatment of acoustic neuromas with gamma knife radiosurgery can halt the growth of acoustic neuromas. This is typically recommended for smaller tumors that have demonstrated growth on MRI in older patients.

You can feel safe knowing your IU Health neurotologist and neurosurgeon will consider every option when choosing a management option for you.

Neurofibromatosis Type II (NF2)

NF2 is a genetic condition that leads to bilateral acoustic neuromas and other intracranial tumors. NF2 comprises less than 5% of all acoustic neuromas. The management of this condition is highly complex. Let the team of specialists at IU health guide you through the management options.

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Treatment

Just as every of tumor varies, treatment and management of acoustic neuromas vary. Our experts will create a patient-centered treatment plan best suited for you.

Acoustic neuroma management depend upon your age, health and tumor size and hearing level. Management options include observation, surgical removal and radiosurgery.

Observation

Some tumors can be observed for several months to determine the tumor growth pattern based upon MRI imaging. The average growth rate is 1-2 millimeters per year and some tumors do not grow. Although some acoustic neuromas do not grow, hearing loss in the tumor ear can still occur.

Surgical Removal

Preserving the facial nerve function is a top priority during surgical removal of acoustic neuromas. Preservation of serviceable hearing may also be a concern in smaller tumors.

Hearing preservation: In select cases, hearing preservation surgery can lead to favorable long-term results if you have a smaller tumor.

Large or growing tumors: Large tumors that compress the brainstem are often surgically removed. Tumors that display growth during observation may be treated with surgical removal.

Radiosurgery

Treatment of acoustic neuromas with gamma knife radiosurgery can halt the growth of acoustic neuromas. This is typically recommended for smaller tumors that have demonstrated growth on MRI in older patients.

You can feel safe knowing your IU Health neurotologist and neurosurgeon will consider every option when choosing a management option for you.

Neurofibromatosis Type II (NF2)

NF2 is a genetic condition that leads to bilateral acoustic neuromas and other intracranial tumors. NF2 comprises less than 5% of all acoustic neuromas. The management of this condition is highly complex. Let the team of specialists at IU health guide you through the management options.

AN OR

Large Acoustic Clinical Trial

Indiana University is part of a national clinical trial for large acoustic neuromas (those larger than 2.5 cm). Our surgeons at IU Health have excellent facial nerve outcomes while achieving high rates of total tumor removal. In some patients, gammaknife radiosurgery may be used if there is a small portion of the tumor left after surgery to preserve facial nerve function.

Acoustic Neuroma Research

Surgeons partner with researchers at Indiana School of Medicine to study the biology of acoustic neuroma and to discover novel treatments for acoustic neuromas. Researchers at Indiana University were the first to design a mouse model with vestibular schwannomas.

AN Trial

Clinical Trials

Large Acoustic Clinical Trial

Indiana University is part of a national clinical trial for large acoustic neuromas (those larger than 2.5 cm). Our surgeons at IU Health have excellent facial nerve outcomes while achieving high rates of total tumor removal. In some patients, gammaknife radiosurgery may be used if there is a small portion of the tumor left after surgery to preserve facial nerve function.

Acoustic Neuroma Research

Surgeons partner with researchers at Indiana School of Medicine to study the biology of acoustic neuroma and to discover novel treatments for acoustic neuromas. Researchers at Indiana University were the first to design a mouse model with vestibular schwannomas.

AN Trial

Patient Stories for Acoustic Neuroma