Acoustic Neuroma Removal
(Neurilemmoma; Vestibular Schwannoma)
The Acoustic Nerve
There are three main treatment options for an acoustic neuroma:
- Careful monitoring
- Microsurgical removal
This fact sheet focuses on microsurgical removal.
Reasons for Procedure
- Tumor is growing
- Concern that tumor size may become life-threatening
- Tumor is causing hearing problems
A successful procedure results in complete removal of the tumor with minimal additional hearing loss.
Side effects may be temporary or permanent. If you are planning to have this surgery, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
- Hearing loss
- Excessive eye dryness
- Difficulty with balance
- Ringing in your ears (Tinnitus)
- Facial weakness and numbness on the side of the tumor
- Leakage of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
- Your age
- Size of the tumor
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The following medicines may be given before the procedure:
- Steroids—usually started 48 hours before surgery
- Antibiotic—given by IV (into the vein) right before surgery
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
Description of the Procedure
The type of procedure will depend on your case. Factors such as hearing status and the size and location of the tumor will be considered. One of the following surgical methods will be selected:
This is often used when you already have significant hearing loss. The mastoid bone (part of skull) and bone in the inner ear will be removed. This allows access to the ear canal and the tumor.
An opening will be made in the skull behind the ear. This approach is used for large or small tumors. This process will make it easier to see and protect the nerves during surgery.
The tumor will be removed from the upper surface of the ear canal. This is used when there is a good chance that hearing may be preserved.
Immediately After Procedure
You will spend at least one night in the intensive care unit for care and observation.
How Long Will It Take?
The surgery takes about 6-12 hours. The exact length will depend on the size and location of the tumor.
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia will prevent pain during the procedure. You may notice pain after the procedure. Talk to your doctor about medicines to help manage the pain.
Average Hospital Stay
The usual length of stay is 4-7 days. Your stay may be longer if there are complications.
At the Hospital
During recovery, you may have some of the following:
- Head discomfort
- Fatigue and sleepiness
- Emotional lows
Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. They may include:
- Keep the incision area clean and dry.
- Do not drive until your doctor allows it.
- Ask your doctor when you will be able to return to work.
- Take medicines as instructed.
Full recovery typically takes 4-6 weeks.
Call Your Doctor
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if you have:
- Signs of infection, including fever, chills, and neck stiffness
- Worsening headache
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
- Nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medicines you were given after surgery or that persists for more than two days after discharge from the hospital
- Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Stiff neck
- Runny nose
American Hearing Research Foundation
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
The Canadian Hearing Society
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology
Acoustic Neuroma Association website. Available at: http://anausa.org/.
Bennett M, Haynes DS. Surgical approaches and complications in the removal of vestibular schwannomas. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2007;40(3):589-609.
International Radiosurgery Association website. Available at: http://www.irsa.org/.
Last reviewed November 2009 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2007 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.