Sensorineural hearing loss after otitis media with effusion and subacute mastoiditis after viral infections of the upper respiratory tract: A comparative study of conservative and surgical treatment | Ear, Nose & Throat Journal Skip to content Skip to navigation

Sensorineural hearing loss after otitis media with effusion and subacute mastoiditis after viral infections of the upper respiratory tract: A comparative study of conservative and surgical treatment

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September 19, 2016
by Thomas Wilhelm, MD, PhD; Tim Stelzer, MD; Rudolf Hagen, MD, PhD

Abstract

Involvement of the middle ear after viral infections of the upper airways may lead to serous otitis media with effusion in the absence of bacterial infection. This can be accompanied by a concomitant shading of the mastoid air cells, which could manifest as a reduced opacity on computed tomography (CT) in the absence of a history of chronic mastoiditis or acute inflammatory signs. This can lead to a subsequent impairment of inner ear function. CT scans reveal an extended pneumatization of the temporal bones in affected patients. Inner ear hearing impairment can probably be attributed to a concomitant labyrinthine reaction-the so-called toxic inner ear lesion. If no remission occurs within 5 days after initial conservative treatment (paracentesis or hemorrheologic infusions), surgical treatment with a mastoidectomy can accelerate hearing restoration. We conducted a retrospective, nonrandomized study of short- and long-term hearing outcomes in patients with a toxic inner ear lesion who had been treated with conservative measures alone (CONS group) or with surgery (SURG group) in a tertiary care referral center. Our study group was made up of 52 consecutively presenting patients (57 ears) who had been seen over a 10-year period; there were 20 patients (21 ears) in the CONS group and 32 patients (36 ears) in the SURG group. Initially, 15 CONS patients (75%) and 18 SURG patients (56%) complained of dizziness or a balance disorder. The initial averaged sensorineural hearing loss (over 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 kHz) was 32.4 ± 15.6 dB in the CONS group and 35.4 ± 12.0 dB in the SURG group. At follow-up (mean: 31.7 mo), the SURG group experienced a significantly greater improvement in hearing (p = 0.025). We conclude that patients with viral otitis media and concomitant noninflammatory mastoiditis with impairment of inner ear function (sensorineural hearing loss) experience a better hearing outcome when a mastoidectomy is performed during primary treatment.

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