JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Bilateral Ménière's disease

Shahin Nabi, Lorne S Parnes
Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery 2009, 17 (5): 356-62
19617826

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Bilateral Ménière's disease treatment can be extremely challenging and, like its unilateral variant, remains highly controversial. There are few articles in the literature that have focused specifically on the treatment of bilateral Ménière's disease, despite significant numbers of unilateral cases evolving toward bilaterality - a process which complicates management and is not simple to foresee. This study reviews the most up-to-date concepts in its diagnosis and treatment, with a special focus on recent advances.

RECENT FINDINGS: Recent advances in electrocochleography, vestibular-evoked myogenic potential, and intratympanic gadolinium-based contrast agent MRI may have the potential to diagnose bilateral endolymphatic hydrops, and predict unilateral to bilateral Ménière's disease progression. Although more prospective studies are necessary, recent studies show that intermittent pressure therapy (Meniett device), intratympanic steroids, and endolymphatic sac surgery appear to be efficacious and well tolerated nonablative management options. Moreover, triple semicircular canal occlusion surgery has recently been used successfully in Ménière's disease.

SUMMARY: Bilateral Ménière's disease can be challenging to diagnose via clinical suspicion and pure-tone audiometry alone. Therefore, adjunctive diagnostic tools including electrocochleography, vestibular-evoked myogenic potential, and intratympanic gadolinium-based contrast agent MRI are of even greater value, and may predict progression to bilaterality - allowing better optimization of treatment. Ablative treatments are relatively contraindicated due to the risks of bilateral vestibular and cochlear hypofunction. Nonablative treatments such as the Meniett device, intratympanic steroids, and endolymphatic sac surgery appear to be efficacious, and useful alternatives after conservative measures fail. Systemic aminoglycoside therapy is reserved for only the most severe and intractable cases.

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