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PLoS One. 2017 Oct 4;12(10):e0186038. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186038. eCollection 2017.

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss associated with inner ear lesions detected by magnetic resonance imaging.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, Anyang, Republic of Korea.
Laboratory of Brain & Cognitive Sciences for Convergence Medicine, Hallym University College of Medicine, Anyang, Republic of Korea.
Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seongnam, Republic of Korea.


Although recent advances in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques have contributed to the detection of tiny lesions in the internal auditory canal (IAC) that may be responsible for sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL), there have been relatively few studies on the clinical characteristics of intra-labyrinthine hemorrhage (ILH) and labyrinthitis versus those regarding IAC tumors. Our purpose was to investigate the frequency of those IAC lesions on MRI and their clinical characteristics. Initial MRIs of 200 patients with SSNHL (93 men, 107 women; mean age = 48.61 years, range: 18-84 years), as well as detailed clinical histories, audiological examinations, and thyroid function, lipid battery, and serological tests (for viral agents and autoimmune disease), were performed. All patients were hospitalized at the time of diagnosis of SSNHL and were administered the same treatment protocol. Patients were divided into idiopathic and secondary groups according to their MRI results. After discharge, they underwent follow-up audiometry and clinical examination at predetermined intervals (2 weeks, 1, 2, 4, and 6 months, and 1 and 2 years). Propensity score-matching and receiver operating characteristics curves of the initial parameters were used for estimating clinical characteristics. Of the 200 patients, 25 (12.55%) who had abnormal findings suggesting inner ear lesions on MRI were assigned to the secondary SSNHL group; within this group, 10 patients (10/200, 5%) had a tumor invading the IAC, 7 (7/200, 3.5%) had ILH, 6 (6/200, 3%) had labyrinthitis, and 2 (1%) had a structural deformity of the IAC. The secondary group showed significantly poor recovery of hearing function compared with that in the idiopathic group. Patients with ILH or labyrinthitis showed prognoses that were equally poor as those of patients with tumors in the secondary group. Additionally, patients with such lesions showed significant canal paresis on the lesion side at an early stage and a high prevalence of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). In conclusion, the prevalence of non-tumorous lesions on MRI represents common findings and showed a poorer treatment response than that of vestibular Schwannoma in patients with SSNHL. Abnormal canal paresis (cut-off value of 35% on the lesioned side, sensitivity 65.2% and specificity 67%), spontaneous nystagmus directed to the contralesional side, and positional vertigo would be the clinical presentation of SSNHL with IAC lesions, in which the presence of acute prolonged vertigo or positional vertigo compatible with BPPV suggests the possibility of a non-tumorous lesion, such as ILH or a labyrinthitis rather than an IAC tumor.

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