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Preventing labyrinthitis ossificans: the role of steroids.

OBJECTIVE: To identify a possible relationship between the administration of steroids at the time of diagnosis of bacterial meningitis and the development of labyrinthitis ossificans.

DESIGN: Retrospective analysis of the charts of 38 children requiring cochlear implantation who presented with bacterial meningitis and then developed bilateral profound deafness. The patients' charts were reviewed for age at diagnosis, the type of antibiotic administered, and the administration, dosage, and duration of steroid (dexamethasone) therapy. Labyrinthitis ossificans was established by preoperative computed tomographic and/or magnetic resonance imaging and by the intraoperative findings as described in the operative report.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients were 38 children who received cochlear implantation by a single senior otolaryngologist for bacterial meningitis-related deafness. Ten patients' charts (26%) were available for full review; 9 of these 10 patients had documented pneumococcal meningitis and the other patient had Haemophilus influenzae-type meningitis.

RESULTS: One of the 6 patients who received steroid therapy at the time of initial illness had documented evidence of labyrinthitis ossificans either radiographically or at the time of surgery. All 4 patients who failed to receive steroid therapy developed labyrinthitis ossificans. The results achieve statistical significance by chi2 analysis and a t test (P<.01).

CONCLUSION: The results of this retrospective study are highly suggestive of a role for steroids in preventing the development of labyrinthitis ossificans in children with pneumococcal meningitis.

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