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Transtympanic perfusion: indications and limitations.

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Palm Beach ENT, West Palm, Florida, USA.



To review the most recent literature regarding the application of transtympanic inner ear perfusion in the treatment of inner ear disorders including Meniere disease, sudden sensorineural hearing loss, and autoimmune inner ear disease.


The use of gentamicin perfusion in the management of Meniere disease with intractable vertigo has been demonstrated to have a very high rate of success, and is much less invasive than alternative surgical procedures such as vestibular nerve section or labyrinthectomy. The technique for achieving the highest rate of success while still minimizing the risk of cochleotoxicity continues to be investigated. Sustained delivery techniques such as the Silverstein MicroWick appear to achieve the best pharmacokinetic profile within the inner ear fluids. The end point of treatment does not necessarily require complete vestibular ablation to cure the patient, and shorter courses of treatment may help to reduce the risk of hearing loss. Cochlear Meniere disease can be treated with dexamethasone 4 mg/cc perfusion of the inner ear, which may improve the hearing, tinnitus, and pressure in the ear. Sudden sensorineural hearing loss has been managed with transtympanic steroid delivery, and this appears to be beneficial for some patients who have failed to respond to oral steroids, or have medical contraindications to systemic steroids.


Inner ear perfusion via transtympanic delivery is an emerging technique in the management of inner ear disease. Improved results are expected over time as research in this area answers questions about dosage and delivery techniques, as well as identifying new applications and pharmaceuticals.

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