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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2002 May 1;53(1):86-90.

Late radiation effects on hearing, vestibular function, and taste in brain tumor patients.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology and Radiotherapy, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Montebello, 0310 Oslo, Norway.



To investigate late radiation effects on hearing, vestibular function, and taste after conventional radiotherapy in brain tumor patients.


Hearing, vestibular function, and taste were assessed in 33 brain tumor patients irradiated unilaterally to the tumor-bearing hemisphere and the temporal bone. Median observation time after completion of radiotherapy was 13 years; the fraction dose was 1.8 Gy, and mean radiation dose was 53.1 Gy.


Deep ulceration in the external ear canal and osteoradionecrosis on the irradiated side was seen in three patients. Reduced hearing was found for air and bone conduction of the irradiated side compared to the opposite side (0.25-2 kHz: 6.1 dB, 4 kHz: 10.3 dB, 6 kHz: 15.6 dB, and 8 kHz: 16.5 dB). For bone conduction, the corresponding figures were 0.25-2 kHz: 5.5 dB and 4 kHz: 8.2 dB. Three patients had a canal paresis of the irradiated side, and three patients had affection of the chorda tympani.


Irradiation of the temporal bone with doses usually given in the treatment of patients with brain tumors may cause osteoradionecrosis, sensorineural hearing loss, dysfunction of the vestibular inner ear, and loss of taste. Head-and-neck examination should be included in the follow-up of long-term survivors.

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