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Otol Neurotol. 2007 Aug;28(5):668-77.

Diagnosis and management of the patulous eustachian tube.

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Department of Otolaryngology, Children's Hospital Boston, and Department of Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



The patulous eustachian tube (ET) seems to be caused by a longitudinal concave defect in the mucosal valve at the superior aspect of its anterolateral wall and causes troublesome autophony of one's own voice and breathing sounds. Patulous ET reconstruction was evaluated to analyze whether submucosal graft implantation to fill in the concavity within the patulous tubal valve may produce lasting relief of symptoms.


Prospective trial.


Tertiary referral center, ambulatory surgery.


Fourteen ETs in 11 adults with 1 or more years of confirmed continuous patulous ET symptoms refractory to medical care.


Endoluminal patulous ET reconstruction was performed in 14 separate cases using a combined endoscopic transnasal and transoral approach under general anesthesia. A submucosal flap was raised along the anterolateral wall of the tubal lumen up to the valve and mobilized superiorly off of the basisphenoid. The pocket was filled with autologous cartilage graft or Alloderm implant, restoring the normal convexity and competence to the mucosal lumen valve.


Autophony symptoms were scored as 1) complete relief; 2) significant improvement, satisfied; 3)significant improvement, dissatisfied; 4) unchanged; or 5)worse.


All 14 cases reported immediate complete relief of autophony. Results with an average follow-up of 15.8 months are as follows: 1 (7%) case had complete relief; 5 (36%) had significant improvement, satisfied; 7 (50%) had significant improvement, dissatisfied; and 1 (7%) was unchanged. There were no complications. Correlation between patulous ET and other conditions was strongest with previous tubal dysfunction. Autophony of voice, but not breathing sounds, was also found to be experienced by 17 (94%) of 18 patients with superior semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome and could be easily mistaken for patulous ET autophony.


Patulous ET seems to be caused by a concave defect in the tubal valve's anterolateral wall. Submucosal graft implantation to restore the normal convexity to the valve wall seems to provide lasting relief of symptoms. Long-term study is needed. It is important to differentiate between the autophony of semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome and patulous ET.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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