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Audiol Neurootol. 2015;20(1):62-71. doi: 10.1159/000366512. Epub 2014 Dec 13.

Assessment of the effects of superior canal dehiscence location and size on intracochlear sound pressures.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Medical Center, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Superior canal dehiscence (SCD) is a defect in the bony covering of the superior semicircular canal. Patients with SCD present with a wide range of symptoms, including hearing loss, yet it is unknown whether hearing is affected by parameters such as the location of the SCD. Our previous human cadaveric temporal bone study, utilizing intracochlear pressure measurements, generally showed that an increase in dehiscence size caused a low-frequency monotonic decrease in the cochlear drive across the partition, consistent with increased hearing loss. This previous study was limited to SCD sizes including and smaller than 2 mm long and 0.7 mm wide. However, the effects of larger SCDs (>2 mm long) were not studied, although larger SCDs are seen in many patients. Therefore, to answer the effect of parameters that have not been studied, this present study assessed the effect of SCD location and the effect of large-sized SCDs (>2 mm long) on intracochlear pressures. We used simultaneous measurements of sound pressures in the scala vestibuli and scala tympani at the base of the cochlea to determine the sound pressure difference across the cochlear partition - a measure of the cochlear drive in a temporal bone preparation - allowing for assessment of hearing loss. We measured the cochlear drive before and after SCDs were made at different locations (e.g. closer to the ampulla of the superior semicircular canal or closer to the common crus) and for different dehiscence sizes (including larger than 2 mm long and 0.7 mm wide). Our measurements suggest the following: (1) different SCD locations result in similar cochlear drive and (2) larger SCDs produce larger decreases in cochlear drive at low frequencies. However, the effect of SCD size seems to saturate as the size increases above 2-3 mm long and 0.7 mm wide. Although the monotonic effect was generally consistent across ears, the quantitative amount of change in cochlear drive due to dehiscence size varied across ears. Additionally, the size of the dehiscence above which the effect on hearing saturated varied across ears. These findings show that the location of the SCD does not generally influence the amount of hearing loss and that SCD size can help explain some of the variability of hearing loss in patients.

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