An acoustic neuroma is a slow-growing tumor of the nerve that connects the ear to the brain. This nerve is called the vestibular cochlear nerve. It is behind the ear right under the brain, also called a vestibular schwannoma, is a rare benign tumor of the balance or hearing nerves. It is usually slow growing and expands at its site of origin.
The most common first symptom is hearing loss in the tumor ear. The cause is generally unknown, although may be genetic in some cases. If an acoustic tumor becomes large it will push on the surface of the brainstem but not really grow into brain tissue. Continued tumor growth may threaten neurological function and even life. The treatment options are observation, surgical removal or radiation.
Acoustic neuromas usually grow slowly over a period of years. They expand in size at their site of origin and when large can displace normal brain tissue. The brain is not invaded by the tumor, but the tumor pushes the brain as it enlarges. The slowly enlarging tumor protrudes from the internal auditory canal into an area behind the temporal bone called the cerebellopontine angle. The tumor now assumes a pear shape with the small end in the internal auditory canal. Larger tumors can press on another nerve in the area (the trigeminal nerve) which is the nerve of facial sensation. Vital functions to sustain life can be threatened when large tumors cause severe pressure on the brainstem and cerebellum. Tumors are typically described as small (less than 1.5 cm), medium (1.5 cm to 2.5 cm) or large (more than 2.5 cm).
Source: Acoustic Neuroma Association
Drs. Moises Arriaga and Frank Culicchia are recognized providers by the Acoustic Neuroma Association. In this video, patient Anthony Pastor discusses his recovery following surgery performed by Drs. Culicchia and Arriaga.