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Vestibular Schwannoma

What is a Vestibular Schwannoma?

A vestibular schwannoma is a noncancerous tumor that develops from the balance and hearing nerves supplying the inner ear. The tumor is slow growing.

As the vestibular schwannoma grows, it presses against the hearing and balance nerves, usually causing asymmetric hearing loss, ringing in the ear, and dizziness/loss of balance. As the tumor grows, it can interfere with the face sensation nerve, causing facial numbness. Vestibular schwannomas can also press on the facial nerve causing facial weakness or paralysis on the side of the tumor. If the tumor becomes large, it will eventually press against nearby brain structures and become life-threatening.

Vestibular schwannoma is also called acoustic neurinoma, acoustic neurilemoma, cerebellopontine angle tumor, and angle tumor.

What causes Vestibular Schwannoma?

Vestibular Schwannoma is caused by an overproduction of Schwann cells. Schwann cells wrap around nerve fibers to help support and insulate nerves.

Symptoms of Vestibular Schwannoma

The most common symptoms are:

How is a Vestibular Schwannoma diagnosed?

Vestibular schwannoma is diagnosed by a thorough ear examination that includes a hearing test, CT scans, enhanced with intravenous dye (contrast), and an MRI.

Can Vestibular Schwannoma be treated?

Yes. However, early diagnosis of a vestibular schwannoma is key to preventing serious consequences. Some common treatments are: surgery, radiation and monitoring the tumor. The type of treatment given will depend on the size and severity of the tumor.

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