JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

The inhibitory effect of intravenous lidocaine infusion on tinnitus after translabyrinthine removal of vestibular schwannoma: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study

David M Baguley, Stephen Jones, Ingrid Wilkins, Patrick R Axon, David A Moffat
Otology & Neurotology 2005, 26 (2): 169-76
15793400

OBJECTIVE: Intravenous infusion of lidocaine has previously been demonstrated to have a transient inhibitory effect on tinnitus in 60% of individuals. The site of action has variously been proposed as the cochlea, the cochlea nerve, and the central auditory pathways. To determine whether a central site of action exists, this study investigated the effect of intravenous infusion of lidocaine in individuals with tinnitus who had previously undergone translabyrinthine excision of a vestibular schwannoma, which involves division of the cochlear nerve.

STUDY DESIGN: Double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study.

SETTING: University hospital.

PATIENTS: Patients who had undergone translabyrinthine removal of a unilateral, sporadic, and histologically proven vestibular schwannoma in the last decade and who had reported postoperative tinnitus at follow-up were identified from a departmental database. Sixteen patients participated (12 men and 4 women). The mean age (+/- standard deviation) of the patients was 58 +/- 8.6 years, and the meantime since operation was 24.3 +/- 7.3 months.

INTERVENTION: Solutions of 2% lidocaine hydrochloride and sodium chloride 0.9% were prepared in identical randomized vials. The volume required for 1.5 ml/kg body weight lidocaine was calculated, and this volume was given over 5 minutes for either vial. Blood pressure, pulse oximetry, and cardiac monitoring were set up and performed throughout the infusions. All investigators were blinded.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Patient-completed visual analogue scale measures of tinnitus intensity, pitch, and distress, performed before infusion, 5 minutes after infusion onset, and 20 minutes after infusion onset.

RESULTS: A significant difference (Wilcoxon signed-rank test, p < 0.05) between placebo and lidocaine infusion conditions was demonstrated for change in visual analogue scale estimates (preinfusion versus 5 min postinfusion) of tinnitus loudness (p = 0.036), pitch (p = 0.026), and distress (p = 0.04). No significant difference between placebo and lidocaine infusion conditions was demonstrated for change in visual analogue scale estimates (preinfusion versus 20 min postinfusion) of tinnitus loudness (p = 0.066), pitch (p = 0.173), and distress (p = 0.058). The indication is of a short-lasting inhibitory effect on tinnitus of lidocaine infusion compared with saline placebo in patients who have undergone translabyrinthine excision of a vestibular schwannoma.

CONCLUSION: Intravenous infusion of lidocaine has a statistically significant inhibitory effect on tinnitus in patients who have previously undergone translabyrinthine removal of a vestibular schwannoma. The site of action of lidocaine in this instance must be in the central auditory pathway, as the cochlear and vestibular nerves are sectioned during surgery, and this finding has important implications for the task of identifying other agents that will have a similar tinnitus-inhibiting effect.

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