The nerve from the ear to brain
We are continuing on in our series of posts on the normal ear and balance system. Last time I talked about the Balance Parts of the Normal Inner Ear. This time I’ll briefly talk about the nerve connecting the ear and the brain.
The nerve is called the Vestibulocochlear nerve and contains parts for both hearing (cochlear) and balance (vestibular). It runs from the inner ear, throug the skull. In the skull it passes through a passage called the internal auditory meatus. As it passes through here is is susceptible to compression from tumours and things called arteriovenous malformations (blood vessel growths).
The most common type of tumour is one called an acoustic neuroma. These are a very slow growing tumour (10 to 25 years is not uncommon). Their slow growth can mean that they show very few signs. MRI scans are the best way to diagnose them. Overall though they are not very common.
Once on the inside of the skull the nerve joins up with the brain at a region called the pontomeduallary junction in the brainstem (the base of the brain). Where it goes from there is the subject of the next post.