Inner ear anomalies and conductive hearing loss in children with Apert syndrome: an overlooked otologic aspect

Guangwei Zhou, Lynn Thomas Schwartz, Quinton Gopen
Otology & Neurotology 2009, 30 (2): 184-9

OBJECTIVE: To identify the occurrence of inner ear structural anomalies and conductive hearing loss (CHL) in children with Apert syndrome.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective review.

SETTING: Pediatric tertiary referral center.

PATIENTS: Twenty pediatric patients with Apert syndrome were found; all patients (38/40 ears) had inner ear anomalies.

INTERVENTION(S): Computerized tomography of the head/temporal bone, pure-tone (including air and bone conduction) audiometry, and tympanometry.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Imaging demonstrating inner ear anomalies, including malformations of the cochlea, dilated vestibule, and/or semicircular canal; audiologic findings of air-bone gap(s).

RESULTS: Hearing loss was found in 90% of the patients with Apert syndrome, and 80% of them had CHL. Air-bone gaps were found at all frequencies, with larger gaps at low frequencies. Fifty percent (20/40) of the ears had better than 0 dB hearing level bone conduction thresholds at 250 and/or 500 Hz. Normal middle ear pressure and mobility were found in all ears with intact eardrum. Inner ear anomalies were found in all patients, and 90% of them had bilateral involvement. Most frequently observed inner ear anomalies were dilated vestibule, malformed lateral semicircular canal, and cochlear dysplasia.

CONCLUSION: Children with Apert syndrome may present with significant CHL that cannot be explained by minor middle ear pathologies alone. This conductive loss may be, at least partially, attributed to the inner ear anomalies; however, these structural anomalies are usually not recognized in these patients. Failure to close air-bone gap after surgical intervention may raise the suspicion of inner ear anomalies, and computed tomographic scan of the temporal bone can provide definitive proof.

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