Acoustic Neuroma Surgery | Otolaryngology (ENT) | Loyola Medicine

Acoustic Neuroma Surgery

Overview and Facts about Acoustic Neuroma Surgery

An acoustic neuroma is a rare, benign (noncancerous) nerve origin tumor that grows slowly from the balance nerve of the inner ear. This nerve controls your sense of balance. It is also known as a vestibular schwannoma. Although the tumor is noncancerous, it can cause pressure that leads to hearing loss, ringing in the ears and unsteadiness.

In rare cases, acoustic neuromas can grow faster and larger, pressing on the brain and causing total hearing loss or build-up of fluid in the skull that can be life threatening.

Surgery may be necessary for larger tumors or for those too close to critical areas. Our goal is to remove the tumor and preserve hearing function and the facial nerve. 

What to Expect with Acoustic Neuroma Surgery

Surgery to remove an acoustic neuroma is performed with general anesthesia. Depending on the location of the tumor and its size, a neurosurgeon and a neurotologist (inner ear surgeon) will surgically remove the tumor through a small opening in the skull behind the ear. Loyola’s otologic and neurosurgeons perform the most acoustic neuroma surgeries in the Chicago area. Our highly experienced team has performed more than 3,000 combined surgeries with low morbidity, shortened hospital stays, few complications and high-long term survival and cure rates.

If removing the entire tumor is not possible, the remaining portion can be radiographically monitored or rarely treated with radiation therapy if the tumor shows growth.

After surgery, you will stay in the hospital for 3 - 5 days, and should expect to be fully recovered within 4 - 8 weeks. 

Side Effects of Acoustic Neuroma Surgery

Depending on the size and location of the tumor at the time of referral, there may be several potential side effects including:

  • Damage to the facial nerve causing temporary palsy or facial weakness (<4% occurrence)
  • Hearing loss, however surgery can preserve hearing in over 60% of cases
  • Headaches
  • Temporary facial numbness
  • Temporary imbalance
  • Temporary tinnitus (ringing in the ear)