An acoustic neuroma is a noncancerous tumor. It grows on the acoustic nerve, which runs from the brain to the ear. This type of tumor typically grows slowly. It may cause hearing loss, balance problems, facial numbness, and headaches.
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There are 3 main treatment options for an acoustic neuroma:
This fact sheet focuses on microsurgical removal.
Microsurgical removal is done when:
A successful procedure results in complete removal of the tumor with minimal additional hearing loss.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Potential problems include:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep.
The type of surgical procedure will depend on your condition. Factors such as hearing status and the size and location of the tumor will be considered. One of the following surgical methods will be selected:
This approach is often used when you already have significant hearing loss. The mastoid bone in the skull and bone in the inner ear will be removed. This allows access to the ear canal and the tumor.
An opening will be made in the skull behind the ear. It makes it easier to see and protect the nerves during surgery.
The tumor will be removed from the upper surface of the ear canal. This approach is used when there is a good chance that hearing may be maintained.
You will spend at least one night in the intensive care unit for care and observation.
The surgery takes about 6-12 hours. The exact length will depend on the size and location of the tumor.
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
The usual length of stay is 4-7 days. Your stay may be longer if there are complications.
During recovery, you may have some of the following:
Staff will help you manage these problems.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection such as:
When you get home, you may have to adjust your activity level while you recover. This may take 4-6 weeks. Home care will include caring for the surgical wound to prevent infection.
MRI scans will be done regularly over the next several years. The scans will check to see if the tumor returns.
It is important for you to monitor your recovery after you leave the hospital. Alert your doctor to any problems right away. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Acoustic Neuroma Association
American Academy of Audiology
Canadian Academy of Audiology
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Acoustic neuroma. American Hearing Research Foundation. Available at: http://american-hearing.org/disorders/acoustic-neuroma. Updated October 2012. Accessed September 5, 2017.
Acoustic neuroma. VEDA website. Available at: http://vestibular.org/acoustic-neuroma. Accessed September 5, 2017.
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What is acoustic neuroma? Acoustic Neuroma Association website. Available at: https://www.anausa.org/learn-about-acoustic-neuroma/what-is-acoustic-neuroma. Accessed September 5, 2017.
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Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Donald W. Buck II, MD Last Updated: 8/8/2014