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To evaluate the long-term stability of intratympanic steroids and investigate the ‘real’ impact of sudden sensorineural hearing loss on patients.
A total of 14 patients treated with intratympanic steroids were evaluated by audiometric and vestibular examinations. The modified Glasgow Benefit Inventory was used to evaluate quality of life changes after intratympanic steroid treatment.
There was no significant difference between pure tone average post-intratympanic steroids and at follow up. The general Glasgow Benefit Inventory score was not significantly associated with the presence of tinnitus or dizziness, or with patient age. The change in pure tone average after intratympanic steroid treatment did not correlate with social or physical scores, but correlated strongly with the general Glasgow Benefit Inventory score (p = 0.0023). Intratympanic steroid administration led to a stable improvement in hearing. Quality of life assessment showed that patients can feel satisfaction regardless of the hearing outcome. Patients who regained a social hearing level expressed greater satisfaction than patients without serviceable hearing. Overall, quality of life improvement was not related to hearing improvement.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is devastating. Considering the audiological effects alone ignores the ‘human’ perspective. Audiological success can correlate with poor quality of life outcome.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is a true audiological emergency, and its management is much discussed. Currently, no single therapy has been proven effective according to evidence criteria. Recently, intratympanic application of steroids has been increasingly used in refractory cases; however, it has only rarely been reported as first-line therapy.
Materials and methods:
Twenty consecutive patients with sudden sensorineural hearing loss treated between July 2008 and January 2010 were enrolled in this prospective, case–control study. Ten patients were treated with intratympanic steroids and 10 with systemic ‘shotgun’ therapy (including steroids, pentoxifylline, low molecular weight heparin and vitamin E). The two groups were homogeneous in all respects. Pure tone averages were assessed before and after treatment for both groups.
There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups.
Intratympanic steroids seem to offer a valid alternative to systemic therapy, with few risks, in sudden sensorineural hearing loss patients, and we recommend their use as first-line therapy.
Inner-ear malformations are frequently found in patients with sensorineural hearing loss. However, isolated anomalies of the vestibular part of the inner ear are seldom described, and for this reason their impact on balance is poorly understood.
We present the case of a 38-year-old Caucasian man with recurrent vestibular complaints, with a sensation of linear tilting, but no hearing impairment. Clinical and neuro-otological examinations showed peripheral involvement of the vestibular system, while audiological investigation was within normal limits. High-resolution magnetic resonance imaging of the inner ear, with three-dimensional reconstruction, demonstrated isolated vestibular anomalies involving both the lateral semicircular canal and the utricle.
Bearing in mind this case, we speculate that isolated vestibular malformation may not be as rare as previously thought, and should be investigated with the aid of sophisticated imaging techniques. A review of the relative literature, focussing attention on the molecular aspects, is also reported.
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