This is a slow-growing, benign (non-cancerous) overgrowth of tissue on the nerves that affect your hearing and balance. When the neuroma is small, there may either be no symptoms or you may have a slight hearing loss or mild tinnitus (ringing/clicking/buzzing noises in your ear). As the neuroma grows and exerts pressure on the nerves, there will be a more noticeable loss of hearing, more tinnitus and problems with balance. The condition is diagnosed using hearing tests and MRI or CT scans.
Acoustic neuromas are usually found only in one ear and generally occur in people over 40 years of age.
If the neuroma is small and not causing significant problems, you may not receive any treatment but the growth and effects of the neuroma will be monitored regularly.
If treatment is being considered, it may be either radiotherapy or surgery.
Radiotherapy, which is used for small to medium neuromas, involves low-dose beams of radiation aimed at the neuroma. This does not require anaesthesia but you will probably be in hospital for 1-2 days.
For larger neuromas that are causing significant problems, surgical treatment may be suggested. Depending on the size of the neuroma, there are several different types of operation that can be performed. Whatever surgical approach is used, it will be performed under general anaesthetic (you will sleep through it) and you will probably remain in hospital for about one week.