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Magnetic resonance imaging in patients with sudden hearing loss, tinnitus and vertigo

by B Schick, D Brors, O Koch, M Schafers, G Kahle
Otol Neurotol ()


OBJECTIVE: The etiopathogenesis in audiovestibular symptoms can be elusive, despite extensive differential diagnosis. This article addresses the value of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in analysis of the complete audiovestibular pathway. STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective evaluation. SETTING: Tertiary referral center. PATIENTS: Consecutive sample of 354 patients (mean age 49 years, range 8 to 86 years) with audiovestibular disorders. INTERVENTION: Contrast-enhanced MRI of the head with thin-slice investigation of the inner ear, internal auditory meatus, and cerebellopontine angle. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: All MRIs were evaluated by experienced independent investigators. Statistical analysis was performed using the Statistical Package of Social Sciences data analysis 9.0. RESULTS: MRI abnormalities were seen in 122 of 354 patients (34.5%). The MRIs revealed the following: 4 pathologic conditions (1.1%) of the cochlea/labyrinth, 23 abnormalities (6.5%) at the internal auditory meatus/cerebellopontine angle, 12 pathologic lesions (3.4%) that involved the central audiovestibular tract at the brainstem, 78 microangiopathic changes of the brain (22%), 3 focal hyperintensities of the brain that turned out to be the first evidence of multiple sclerosis in 2 patients and sarcoidosis in 1 patient, and 1 temporal metastasis. Other pathologic conditions, such as parotid gland or petrous bone apex tumors, were unrelated to the audiovestibular symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: This study indicates that contrast-enhanced MRI can be used to assess a significant number of different pathologic conditions in patients with audiovestibular disorders.

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