To determine whether patients within an otolaryngology department presenting with asymmetrical sensorineural hearing loss and/or unilateral tinnitus can be safely and cost-efficiently screened for acoustic neuroma by audiologists as a first or only point of contact.
A prospective case series and cost analysis were conducted at a tertiary referral centre. Between April 2013 and March 2017, 1126 adult patients presented to the audiology department with asymmetrical sensorineural hearing loss and/or unilateral tinnitus. All were screened for acoustic neuroma with magnetic resonance imaging, based on pre-determined criteria. The main outcome measure was the presence of acoustic neuroma or other pathology on magnetic resonance imaging.
Twenty-five patients (2.22 per cent) were found to have an acoustic neuroma (size range: 3–20 mm) and were referred to the otolaryngologist for further assessment. The remaining patients were appropriately managed and discharged by the audiologists without ENT input. This resulted in an overall cost saving of £164 850.
Patients with asymmetrical sensorineural hearing loss and/or unilateral tinnitus can be safely screened for acoustic neuroma and independently managed by audiologists as a first or only point of contact, resulting in considerable departmental cost savings.
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