Sudden hearing loss with simultaneous posterior semicircular canal BPPV: possible etiology and clinical implications

Sabri El-Saied, Ben-Zion Joshua, Nili Segal, Mordechai Kraus, Daniel M Kaplan
American Journal of Otolaryngology 2014, 35 (2): 180-5

OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this study were to describe the clinical course and outcome of patients with sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) in conjunction with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), and hypothesize the possible pathophysiology of this entity.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective study of all patients with evidence of SSNHL with any type of BPPV between 2008 and 2012.

SETTINGS: Tertiary care university hospital.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Five patients aged 56 to 71 were diagnosed with unilateral profound SSNHL and BPPV. Neurotologic examination revealed an ipsilateral torsional, up-beating nystagmus on Dix-Hallpike exam. Severe or profound ipsilateral-sensorineural hearing loss was recognized on audiometry. The rest of the exam was normal; this was in keeping with the diagnosis of SSNHL with ipsilateral posterior semicircular canal BPPV.

RESULTS: All patients were treated with a modified Epley maneuver; oral steroids were administered for two weeks. In all cases vertigo resolved and the Dix-Hallpike exam became normal within several weeks. However, the hearing loss remained unchanged in two patients. Magnetic resonance imaging of the head was normal and ENG caloric test demonstrated mild ipsilateral canal paresis in two patients.

CONCLUSIONS: 1. Patients with SSNHL and BPPV can have a variable clinical course and outcome. This entity may be quite common, but the diagnosis of BPPV can be missed if a complete neurological physical examination is not performed. 2. Arterial occlusions or selective multiple vascular or neural involvement may explain the pathophysiology of SSNHL with BPPV of the posterior semicircular canal.

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