Acoustic Neuroma Clinic

What is an acoustic neuroma (vestibular schwannoma)?

An acoustic neuroma, also known as a vestibular schwannoma, is a noncancerous, slow-growing tumor, located between the ear and the brain. There are approximately 3,000 newly diagnosed cases each year in the United States, with an incidence of one per 100,000 people. Acoustic neuromas originate from Schwann cells on the balance (vestibular) nerve, therefore they are officially named "vestibular schwannomas."

What causes an acoustic neuroma?

Most tumors are sporadic meaning they form spontaneously and the exact cause is not clear. They may present at any age and occur in one ear.  Bilateral acoustic neuromas are associated with a

genetic condition called neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2). Acoustic neuromas are primarily treated by otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat doctors) and neurosurgeons. At Tufts Medical Center we draw on the full range of expertise only found at a major academic medical center, and here, you'll get personalized care. Meet our Skull Base Team. 

acoustic neuroma scan

Acoustic neuroma symptoms:

  • Hearing loss (in one ear) that may be gradual or sudden
  • Balance problems including vertigo or unsteadiness, falls
  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ear 
  • Numbness of your face
  • Eye twitching or weakness of the face 
  • Compression the brain/hydrocephalus (fluid buildup in the brain)

Acoustic neuroma diagnosis:

Early detection of an acoustic neuroma can be difficult – the symptoms may be confused with other middle and inner ear problems, may be subtle or may not appear at all. Early diagnosis is crucial, however, to preventing serious consequences.  If you notice any of the symptoms above, we recommend an evaluation with one of our neurotologists, Dr. Kathryn Noonan or Dr. Jonathon Sillman. Our Ear and Balance Center offers the latest techniques and treatments, with the skills and expertise to tackle complex medical conditions. Tufts Medical Center is the perfect size for providing the kind of personal and highly attentive care all patients deserve. If you have a diagnosis of acoustic neuroma and would like to request a second opinion please contact us today.

Acoustic neuroma treatment:

The best way to treat an acoustic neuroma is at a center with a skull base team comprised of highly-skilled experts in the fields of neurosurgery, ENT (otolaryngology), and radiation oncology. 

Ideal treatment options for acoustic neuromas include a wait-and-scan approach, microsurgery, or stereotactic radiosurgery. The best way for each individual can vary depending on tumor size, hearing, dizziness, health status, and patient preference.

The Tufts Medical Center Skull Base Surgery Center was founded in the early 1990s in downtown Boston to provide superior, integrated care for complex tumors and other neurological conditions. U.S. News & World Report ranks all of our physicians among the top 1% of neurosurgeons in the nation.

We've developed a reputation for excellence because we're not only expert surgeons, but also expert collaborators. The comprehensive care options offered at Tufts Medical Center makes it a leading skull base center as it is the only Gamma Knife Center in Northern New England.  Our knowledgeable team of highly-qualified acoustic neuroma experts have familiarity in all potential treatment options and will discuss these in detail along with the pros and cons of each approach.