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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2013 May;52(5):780-9. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ket009. Epub 2013 Feb 21.

Autoimmune sensorineural hearing loss: the otology-rheumatology interface.

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Section of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Royal Victoria Hospital, M11-32, 687 Pine Avenue, Montreal, Quebec H3A 1A1, Canada.


Autoimmune sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is a rare clinical entity characterized by a progressive fluctuating bilateral asymmetric SNHL that develops over several weeks to months. Vestibular symptoms, tinnitus and aural fullness are present in up to 50% of patients. Due to the lack of specific diagnostic tests, both clinical suspicion and responsiveness to corticosteroids are the pillars for the diagnosis of autoimmune SNHL. The evaluation of patients in whom this condition is suspected should include a detailed history and physical examination, an audiogram, an MRI and a limited laboratory workup to exclude secondary causes of hearing loss. The low frequency of this condition, the heterogeneity in the designs of the available studies and the absence of randomized trials comparing treatment responses and assessing long-term outcomes are some of the factors accounting for the limited evidence to guide the clinician in the approach to the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune SNHL.

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