A schwannoma is the abnormal growth of Schwann cells, which line and insulate nerves. Trigeminal schwannoma is a rare, mostly benign tumour that develops at the base of the skull on the trigeminal nerve, the fifth cranial nerve. As the tumour grows, it compresses the brainstem causing symptoms including sudden shock-like facial pain that lasts for a few seconds, double vision, coordination loss or numbness.
Trigeminal schwannomas can be diagnosed with the help of imaging tests such as CT and MRI scans and a biopsy (sample of tissue is removed for examination).
Treatment involves surgical resection. When complete removal is not possible, your doctor may remove as much as possible and then treat the remaining with other treatments such as stereotactic radiotherapy (high energy radiation is targeted on the tumour to destroy it).