Vestibular Schwannoma / Acoustic Neuroma

What is Vestibular Schwannoma or Acoustic Neuroma?

A Vestibular Schwannoma, also known as an Acoustic Neuroma is a slow growing, non- cancerous or benign tumour in the vestibular nerve.

The vestibular nerve is situated in the inner ear and is responsible for giving our brain information on head position, movement and hearing.

The vestibular system is important to keep our balance and our vision steady.

Signs and Symptoms of a Vestibular Schwannoma

The most common symptoms experienced by individuals with Vestibular Schwannoma are related to hearing:

As tumour grows in size, individuals may experience imbalance or vertigo attacks or even weakness in the muscles of the face.

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How are Vestibular Schwannomas Treated?

Conservative management

Means not having surgery. It involves: Close monitoring of symptoms and tumour size (regular brain imaging and check ups with an ENT Specialist). If your symptoms include imbalance and vertigo, you may be referred to a Physiotherapist for a vestibular and balance rehabilitation program to manage these symptoms.

Surgical management

Involves the removal of the Vestibular Schwannoma by a neurosurgeon. This surgery results in the complete resection or ‘cutting’ of the vestibular nerve on the affected side. After surgery, since the nerve is damaged, there is a sudden loss of information coming from the inner ear on the operated side. This creates an imbalance between the 2 sides which may result in vertigo and imbalance, especially in the days following surgery.

Gamma Knife radiation therapy

This is a method where radiation is used to treat specific areas of the brain. Following Gamma Knife treatment, you may experience symptoms of dizziness linked with brief tumour swelling however this should settle. If it does not, you may be sent to a vestibular physiotherapist for vestibular and balance rehabilitation to help you to return to your normal day to day activities.

Vestibular Physiotherapy after Removal Surgery

For the first 3 to 4 days after surgery: