Bilateral sudden deafness as a prodrome of anterior inferior cerebellar artery infarction

H Lee, G T Whitman, J G Lim, S D Lee, Y C Park
Archives of Neurology 2001, 58 (8): 1287-9

BACKGROUND: Acute ischemic stroke in the distribution of the anterior inferior cerebellar artery is known to be associated with hearing loss, facial weakness, ataxia, nystagmus, and hypalgesia. There have been few reports on bilateral deafness and vertebrobasilar occlusive disease. Furthermore, previous reports have not emphasized the inner ear as a localization of bilateral deafness.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the presentation of acute ischemic stroke in the distribution of the anterior inferior cerebellar artery as sudden bilateral hearing loss with minimal associated signs.

DESIGN AND SETTING: Case report and tertiary care hospital.

PATIENT: A 66-year-old man with diabetes mellitus developed sudden bilateral deafness, unilateral tinnitus, and vertigo 7 days before the onset of dysarthria, facial weakness, and ataxia. T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scans showed hyperintensities in the right lateral pons and right middle cerebral peduncle and a possible abnormality of the left middle cerebellar peduncle. A magnetic resonance angiogram showed moderately severe stenosis of the distal vertebral artery and middle third of the basilar artery. The patient's right limb coordination and gait improved steadily over several weeks, but there was no improvement in hearing in his right ear.

CONCLUSIONS: The relatively isolated onset of deafness as well as the severity and persistence of the hearing loss led us to conclude that the hearing loss in this case was likely due to prominent hypoperfusion of the internal auditory artery, with labyrinthine infarction as the earliest event. Vertebrobasilar occlusive disease should be considered in the differential diagnosis of sudden bilateral deafness.

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