Ear Home > Vestibular Schwannoma

A vestibular schwannoma is a benign tumor that develops from the nerves associated with balance and hearing that supply the inner ear. The condition can affect one or both ears and is usually characterized by symptoms such as loss of balance, ringing in the ears, and headaches. Treatment options may include surgery, radiation therapy, and watchful waiting.

What Is a Vestibular Schwannoma?

A vestibular schwannoma is a benign, usually slow-growing tumor that develops from the nerves associated with balance and hearing that supply the inner ear. The condition results from an overproduction of Schwann cells -- the cells that normally wrap around nerve fibers like the skin of an onion to help support and insulate the nerves.
 
Other names for a vestibular schwannoma include:
 

Unilateral Versus Bilateral

A vestibular schwannoma can affect one or both ears. When one ear is affected, it's known as unilateral vestibular schwannoma. When both ears are affected, it's known as bilateral vestibular schwannoma.
 
Unilateral Vestibular Schwannoma
This condition affects only one ear. It accounts for approximately 8 percent of all tumors inside the skull. One out of every 100,000 individuals per year develops a vestibular schwannoma. Symptoms may develop at any age, but usually appear between the ages of 30 and 60. This is not a hereditary condition.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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