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Audiological and radiological advances and refinement of microsurgical techniques have facilitated the diagnosis and excision of very small acoustic nerve tumours with a low morbidity and mortality. Is this cost effective? In an attempt to answer this question, an analysis of 66 cases of surgically treated acoustic neuromas is presented. This represents a part of a series of otoneurosurgical procedures carried out at Addenbrooke's Hospital over the last five years. By studying the relative morbidity of early and late surgical intervention in these cases, and by costing the exercise, the justification for early diagnosis and treatment is presented both in financial and human terms.