An auditory nerve tumor (acoustic neuroma, acoustic neurinoma, vestibular schwannoma, eighth nerve tumor) is a noncancerous (benign) tumor that originates in the cells that wrap around the auditory nerve (Schwann cells).
Auditory nerve tumors usually grow from the vestibular (balance) nerve. Early symptoms include noise in the ear (tinnitus), hearing loss, and imbalance or unsteadiness when the person turns quickly. If the tumor grows larger and compresses other parts of the brain, such as the facial nerve or the trigeminal nerve, weakness and numbness of the face may result. Early diagnosis is based on a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan and hearing tests.
Tumors are removed by surgery, which may be performed with a microscope (microsurgery) to avoid damaging the facial nerve.
Last full review/revision February 2008 by Richard T. Miyamoto, MD