Schwannoma is a non-cancerous (benign) tumor that is also known as neurilemmoma or vestibular schwannoma. Schwannomas are usually very slow-growing and originate from the 8th cranial nerve (the nerve of hearing), also known as the acoustic or vestibulocochlear nerve.

Schwannomas are usually located in the angle between the pons and the cerebellum, in the back of your skull. Schwannomas account for almost 8 percent of all primary brain tumors. They typically occur in middle-aged adults, and females are twice as likely as males to develop this type of tumor.

Vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma) – Develops from the balance and hearing nerves supplying the inner ear. The tumor derives comes from an overproduction of Schwann cells – the cells that wrap around nerve fibers to help support and insulate nerves.

Our approach

Northwell Health takes the most advanced approach to treating schwannoma tumors at the renowned Brain Tumor Center, part of Northwell Health Neuroscience Institute. Our specialists have decades of training and experience using the latest technologies and therapies. From diagnosis through treatment and follow-up, our patients are in the capable hands of some of the region's top brain tumor experts every step of the way.

As one of the country's most progressive brain tumor centers, we offer:              

  • Leading-edge surgical procedures, such as awake craniotomy, that avoid damage to critical areas of the brain
  • Unique intra-operative magnetic resonance imaging (iMRI) that guides surgery and ensures superior precision
  • Minimally invasive laser treatment - pioneering the treatment of brain tumors with lasers that are inserted through the smallest possible incisions with the highest accuracy
  • GliaSite Radiation Therapy System (the Brain Tumor Center is one of the few facilities in New York state actively performing this procedure)
  • Novalis® stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) that delivers precise radiation beam shaping that targets tumors and protects healthy cells
  • Advanced chemotherapy treatment options

Multidisciplinary brain tumor treatment

Each schwannoma brain tumor diagnosis and treatment plan is unique, so the team meets regularly to discuss each patient’s treatment. Our physicians participate in multidisciplinary conferences where brain tumor experts across multiple departments and disciplines share ideas and best practices for delivering the best possible collaborative patient care. The specialists at these conferences review each treatment plan to constantly improve care and ensure treatment milestones are reached.

Causes and risk factors

The cause of schwannomas, like many other types of tumors, is unknown. However, it is believed to develop when there is a defect in a gene that normally prevents tumors from forming.


Common symptoms of schwannoma include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Impaired eye movement
  • One-sided hearing loss and buzzing or ringing in the ear
  • Taste disturbances
  • Unsteadiness
  • Dizziness, although less common

If the tumor affects the 7th cranial nerve (the facial nerve), facial paralysis may also occur.

Diagnosis and testing

Our team of specialists at the Brain Tumor Center provides the most up-to-date evaluations for brain tumors using the latest diagnostic and imaging technology.

The Brain Tumor Center works very closely with the departments of neurosurgery, interventional neuroradiology, neurology and radiation oncology, as well as the Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Center and Skull Base Center, to ensure an accurate diagnosis and the appropriate treatment for the best outcome.

Treatment options

If you’ve been diagnosed with a schwannoma tumor, your doctor will discuss your options with you which may include:

  • Surgical removal of the tumor
  • Radiation
  • Observation

The physicians and staff at the Brain Tumor Center are nationally ranked experts in minimally invasive surgery. They work alongside multiple specialists, including speech-language pathologists, in the imaging and diagnosis of skull base disorders. 


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The Neuroscience Institute

We are dedicated to the world-class diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases and disorders.