Sensorineural and conductive hearing loss associated with lateral semicircular canal malformation

J Johnson, A K Lalwani
Laryngoscope 2000, 110 (10 Pt 1): 1673-9

OBJECTIVE: Lateral semicircular canal (LSCC) malformation is one of the most common radiological inner ear malformations. Traditionally, inner ear malformations are thought to be associated with sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). Recent experience with patients with LSCC malformation suggested that LSCC malformation may be associated with both SNHL and conductive hearing loss (CHL). The auditory phenotype associated with LSCC malformation is not well delineated. The objective of this study is to define the nature of the hearing loss associated with LSCC malformation.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective review

METHODS: Retrospective review of clinical records, audiological evaluation, and imaging studies.

RESULTS: Two patients with unilateral and 13 patients with bilateral LSCC malformation were identified. LSCC malformation was associated with CHL in 14% (4 ears), SNHL in 71% (20 ears), normal hearing in 11% (3 ears) and CHL due to atresia in one ear. Hearing loss varied from mild to profound but did not correlate with the severity of LSCC malformation. In bilateral malformation, the hearing loss was asymmetric in half of the cases. Malformation of the posterior limb of the LSCC was always associated with a large vestibular aqueduct. An absent or rudimentary LSCC was invariably associated with a cochlear abnormality.

CONCLUSIONS: LSCC malformation, like other inner ear malformations such as large vestibular aqueduct and X-linked mixed deafness with perilymph gusher, can be associated with CHL, SNHL, or normal hearing. Children with unexplained conductive hearing loss often undergo exploratory surgery to improve hearing. Given that inner ear malformations may be associated with a pure CHL, it is critical that children undergo computed tomography scan of the temporal bone prior to undergoing exploratory surgery.

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