Vestibular schwannoma and cell-phones. Results, limits and perspectives of clinical studies

Eur Ann Otorhinolaryngol Head Neck Dis. 2013 Nov;130(5):275-82. doi: 10.1016/j.anorl.2012.05.005. Epub 2013 May 28.


The widespread development of cell-phones entails novel user exposure to electromagnetic fields. Health impact is a public health issue and a source of anxiety in the population. Some clinical studies reported an association between cell and cordless phone use and vestibular schwannoma; others found none. A systematic review was performed of all published clinical studies (cohort, registry, case-control and validation studies), with analysis of results, to determine the nature of the association and the level of evidence. Cohort studies were inconclusive due to short exposure durations and poor representativeness. Registry studies showed no correlation between evolution of cell-phone use and incidence of vestibular schwannoma. Case-control studies reported contradictory results, with methodological flaws. Only a small number of subjects were included in long-term studies (>10 years), and these failed to demonstrate any indisputable causal relationship. Exposure assessment methods were debatable, and long-term assessment was lacking. An on-going prospective study should determine any major effect of electromagnetic fields; schwannoma being a rare pathology, absence of association will be difficult to prove. No clinical association has been demonstrated between cell and cordless phone use and vestibular schwannoma. Existing studies are limited by their retrospective assessment of exposure.

Keywords: Cellular phone; Electromagnetic fields; Vestibular schwannoma.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Causality
  • Cell Phone / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / epidemiology*
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / etiology*
  • Risk