Diagnosis

Acoustic neuroma is often difficult to diagnose in the early stages because signs and symptoms may be subtle and develop gradually over time. Common symptoms such as hearing loss are also associated with many other middle and inner ear problems.

After asking questions about your symptoms, your doctor will conduct an ear exam. Your doctor may order the following tests:

  • Hearing test (audiometry). In this test, conducted by a hearing specialist (audiologist), you hear sounds directed to one ear at a time. The audiologist presents a range of sounds of various tones and asks you to indicate each time you hear the sound. Each tone is repeated at faint levels to find out when you can barely hear.

    The audiologist may also present various words to determine your hearing ability.

  • Imaging. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the preferred imaging test to confirm the presence of acoustic neuroma and can detect tumors as small as 1 to 2 millimeters in diameter. If MRI is unavailable or you can't tolerate an MRI scan, computerized tomography (CT) may be used, but it may miss very small tumors.