scroll to top
Loading icon
Health Information Center
Press enter or spacebar to select a desired language.

Vestibular Schwannoma

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Vestibular Schwannoma

(Neurilemmoma; Acoustic Schwannoma; Acoustic Neuroma)


A vestibular schwannoma is a tumor that grows on a nerve that runs from the brain stem to the ear. It plays a role in hearing and balance. It is not cancer, but it can cause problems with hearing and put pressure on the brain stem.

The Acoustic Nerve

Nucleus factsheet image\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si55551137.jpgNULL13NULL2008-12-10254390Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


This health issue is caused by gene problems. It is not known why this happens.

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in people who are 50 to 55 years of age. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • A personal or family history of neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2)—a condition that causes tumors to grow on nerves
  • Being around loud noises


A vestibular schwannoma grows slowly. Problems start slowly and get worse over time. They may be:

  • Gradual hearing loss in one ear
  • Ringing in the affected ear—tinnitus
  • Balance problems
  • Dizziness
  • A feeling of spinning when a person is still— vertigo
  • Facial numbness and tingling


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the ears.

Images will be taken. This can be done with:


Treatment will depend on:
  • The tumor's size
  • How fast it is growing
  • Where the tumor is

People with a tumor that is not causing problems may be watched.

People with tumors that are causing problems may need:


The tumor may be removed through surgery. It may result in permanent hearing loss or facial paralysis.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses radiation to kill abnormal cells. It may also stop the tumor from growing. It may be done when the tumor cannot be removed through surgery.

Options are:

  • Conventional fractioned radiation therapy given over many treatments or as one large dose
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) that uses a focused beam of radiation to destroy tumor tissue in and around the brain.


Vestibular schwannomas cannot be prevented.





  • Acoustic neuroma. Vestibular Disorders Association website. Available at:
  • Vestibular schwannoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
  • What is acoustic neuroma? Acoustic Neuroma Association website. Available at:
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.