Acoustic neuroma pathophysiology

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Simrat Sarai, M.D. [2]


Acoustic neuroma arises from Schwann cells, which are the cells that are normally involved in the conduction of nervous impulses along axons, nerve development and regeneration. On microscopic histopathological analysis, acoustic neuroma may display two types of growth patterns Antoni type A and Antoni type B.[1] Antoni type A growth pattern is composed of elongated cells with cytoplasmic process arranged in fascicles, little stromal matrix and verocay bodies. Antoni type B growth pattern is composed of loose meshwork of cells, less densely cellular matrix, microcysts and myxoid change.


Acoustic neuromas are benign tumors (WHO grade 1), which usually arise from the intracanalicular segment of the vestibular portion of the vestibulocochlear nerve (CN VIII), near the transition point between glial and Schwann cells (Obersteiner-Redlich zone). An acoustic neuroma arises from a type of cell known as the Schwann cell. These cells form an insulating layer over all nerves of the peripheral nervous system (i.e., nerves outside of the central nervous system) including the eighth cranial nerve. The eighth cranial nerve is separated into two branches the cochlear branch, which transmits sound to the brain and the vestibular branch, which transmits balance information to the brain. Most acoustic neuromas occur on the vestibular portion of the eighth cranial nerve. Because these tumors are made up of Schwann cells, and usually occur on the vestibular portion of the eighth cranial nerve, many physicians prefer the use of the term vestibular schwannoma. However, the term acoustic neuroma is still used more often in the medical literature.[1] They are well circumscribed encapsulated masses, which unlike neuromas, arise from but are separate from nerve fibers, which they usually splay and displace rather than incorporated.

Microscopic Pathology

They can display two types of growth patterns:

  • Antoni A
  • Antoni B
    • Loose meshwork of cells
    • Less densely cellular
    • Microcysts and myxoid change
Schwannoma showing Antoni A and Antoni B cells


  1. 1.0 1.1 Acoustic Schwannoma. Radiopedia(2015) Accessed on October 2 2015