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Auris Nasus Larynx. 1999 Oct;26(4):411-7.

Lidocaine test in patients with tinnitus: rationale of accomplishment and relation to the treatment with carbamazepine.

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Otorhinolaryngology Department, University of São Paulo Medical School, Brazil.



There is strong evidence in the literature about the effect of local anesthetics such as lidocaine in controlling tinnitus; these agents act by stabilizing hair cell membrane and cochlear nerve fibers. However, the effect of intravenous lidocaine is transient, and its oral analog (tocainide) does not have the same efficacy for long-term treatment in patients with tinnitus. Some oral anti-epileptic drugs (carbamazepine, for instance) have been used alternatively in several studies. The aim of this work is to evaluate the response to intravenous lidocaine in patients with intractable tinnitus and the effect of oral carbamazepine in long-term maintenance of tinnitus relief.


We studied prospectively 50 patients (28 females and 22 males; mean age 50.9 years) who underwent the lidocaine test, performed by a 3-min intravenous infusion of 2% lidocaine chloridrate. The patients who experienced any relief after the test started treatment with oral carbamazepine in ascending dosages (50-600 mg/day).


The results were classified as tinnitus abolition (18%), marked relief (32%), partial relief (26%), unchanged (22%), or worsening (2%). The lidocaine test showed favorable results in 76% of patients, especially those with bilateral tinnitus (P < 0.001). Afterwards, 50% of patients treated with carbamazepine maintained the improvement of tinnitus (P = 0.0034).


The authors conclude that intravenous lidocaine is effective in reducing intractable tinnitus and that there is a close association between lidocaine and oral carbamazepine effects. Therefore, carbamazepine can be used for the treatment of tinnitus when the patient achieves improvement of symptom after the lidocaine test.

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