An acoustic neuroma (or vestibular schwannoma) is a brain tumour which is benign and in most (but not all) cases usually slow growing. The cells that form an acoustic neuroma are called 'schwann' cells, and make up the lining of the eighth cranial nerve as it passes through a tiny canal which connects the inner ear to the brain. Unknown events lead to an overproduction of schwann cells and as they multiply, they form a small tumour which fills the canal. As the tumour expands, it extends into the brain, assuming a pear shape and putting pressure on the nerves and brain.
The diagnosis of acoustic neuroma is usually made after a patient reports one-sided hearing loss, balance problems or tinnitus and the appropriate tests are carried out to locate the cause. CT and MRI scans are used to make the final diagnosis.
Acoustic neuromas are found most often in older people.
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