A vestibular schwannoma (commonly known as an acoustic neuroma) is a benign tumor (noncancerous growth) that develops on the nerve that connects the ear to the brain. The tumor usually grows slowly. As it grows, it presses against the hearing and balance nerves. The tumor can also eventually cause numbness or paralysis of the face. If it grows large enough, it can press against the brain, becoming life-threatening.


Acoustic neuroma can be difficult to diagnose, because the symptoms – hearing loss, tinnitus (ear noise) and imbalance – usually develop slowly and are often ignored by the patient. Ear exams, hearing tests and scans can show if you have it.

The audiology department at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has a dedicated staff to perform the most advanced testing. That helps ensure you are properly diagnosed so that your treatment can be as effective as possible and that you can get faster results.


Tumor size, hearing ability, age and overall health are all important in determining the best treatment when an acoustic neuroma is diagnosed. If the tumor is small, you may only need to have it checked regularly. If you do need treatment, surgery and radiation are options.


  • Usually the recommended treatment for removal
  • Three different surgical approaches depending on size, location and residual hearing
  • Tumor removal followed by radiation may be recommended
  • Outpatient procedure of one or more sessions
  • No recovery time after treatment
  • Usually no initial complications
  • Ongoing monitoring is required
  • May adversely affect hearing

A three- to five-day hospital stay is usually required after surgery. Recovery takes about one to three months or longer, depending on the complexity of the procedure. Discomfort in the surgical area and fatigue are expected. Rehabilitation may be necessary for patients experiencing problems with balance. To be sure tumor regrowth is not an issue, an MRI should be performed within one to five years of surgery.

Why Choose Ohio State

The Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center has been successfully evaluating and treating patients with ear-related issues for decades. Many of our patients are referred to us by local ENTs due to our outstanding reputation.

A dedicated testing staff: We have a dedicated, knowledgeable, highly experienced staff that conducts our patient hearing testing, which provides a solid base of information to assist with the patient’s diagnosis.

Super specialists: Among our physicians are a group of neurotologists who are often referred to as “super specialists.” We are skilled in treating all diseases of the ear, medically or surgically. Many of the neurotologists in the state of Ohio are found here.

Nationally ranked: Wexner Medical Center is recognized by U.S.News & World Report one of the nation’s best hospitals for care of the ear, nose and throat.

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