Sudden sensorineural hearing loss as prodromal symptom of anterior inferior cerebellar artery infarction

Francesco Martines, Francesco Dispenza, Cesare Gagliardo, Enrico Martines, Daniela Bentivegna
ORL; Journal for Oto-rhino-laryngology and its related Specialties 2011, 73 (3): 137-40
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is a clinical condition characterized by a sudden onset of unilateral or bilateral hearing loss. In recent years sudden deafness has been frequently described in association with anterior inferior cerebellar artery (AICA) infarction generally presenting along with other brainstem and cerebellar signs such as ataxia, dysmetria and peripheral facial palsy. The authors report a rare clinical case of a 53-year-old man who suddenly developed hearing loss and tinnitus without any brainstem or cerebellar signs. Computed tomography of his brain was normal, and the audiological results localized the lesion causing deafness to the inner ear. Surprisingly, magnetic resonance imaging showed an ischemic infarct in the right AICA territory. This case represents the fifth in the literature to date but it confirms that AICA occlusion can cause sudden deafness even without brainstem or cerebellar signs. Therefore, we recommend submitting the patient for neuroimaging, as an emergency, in order to exclude infarction of the AICA territory. By doing this, it may be possible to limit the extent of the lesion by commencing early therapy.

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