Recognizing and Confirming Vestibular Schwannoma
Because of its location, a vestibular schwannoma can produce serious symptoms, or even death, by compression of important structures, including the cranial nerves and the brainstem.
As the tumor grows, it presses against the nerves associated with hearing and balance. This results in early symptoms of vestibular schwannoma, such as:
- One-sided or high-tone hearing loss
- Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
- Loss of balance.
As the tumor grows, later symptoms may include:
- Facial numbness
- Weakness of facial muscles
- Paralysis of facial muscles.
(Click Symptoms of Vestibular Schwannoma for more information.)
In order to make a vestibular schwannoma diagnosis, the doctor will usually ask a series of questions about a person's medical history, perform a physical exam, and recommend a number of tests.
The tests that your doctor may recommend to help in diagnosing this condition may include:
- A hearing test (audiogram)
- Computerized tomography (CT) scans, enhanced with intravenous dye (contrast)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), enhanced with intravenous dye (contrast).
(Click Diagnosing Vestibular Schwannoma to learn more about the steps involved in making a diagnosis.)
These tests are critical in the early detection of a vestibular schwannoma, and are helpful in determining the location and size of a tumor and in planning its removal.