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What is schwannoma surgery?

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Quick Answer

Schwannoma surgery is the removal of a benign tumor that grows on the sheath that surrounds the nerve, according to UCLA Health. When these tumors are found, doctors recommend their removal even if they have no symptoms. This is because they tend to grow if left undisturbed.

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Full Answer

Since schwannomas are found throughout the peripheral nervous system, their treatment depends on where they are, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Vestibular schwannomas are found in the ear, and large tumors can interfere with hearing and cause pain. Sometimes, the tumor is only partially removed to spare the patient damage to the facial nerve.

There are several ways to surgically remove a vestibular schwannoma, claims the University of Maryland Medical Center. It is sometimes removed by making an incision behind the patient's ear, but this sacrifices the patient's sense of balance and destroys hearing in that ear. The tumor can also be removed through an incision above the ear, which saves some hearing. In another approach, the tumor is removed from an incision that's made behind the ear. This can also save some of the patient's hearing.

Schwannomas are also found in the spine, according to the National Institutes of Health. These are removed through laminectomy, which is removal of a structure of the vertebra. The spine is then stabilized with wires or plates.

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