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Sensorineural Hearing Loss: An Underdiagnosed Complication of Kawasaki Disease

Magalhães, Cristina M.R. MD, PhD*†; Magalhães Alves, Natália R. MS; Oliveira, Karina Maria A. MD; Silva, Isabella M.C. MD, PhD§; Gandolfi, Lenora MD, PhD*∥; Pratesi, Riccardo MD, PhD*∥

Journal of Clinical Rheumatology: October 2010 - Volume 16 - Issue 7 - p 322-325
doi: 10.1097/RHU.0b013e3181f603bc
Original Articles

Background: Kawasaki disease (KD) is an acute systemic vasculitis of unknown etiology in which the main complication is coronary arteritis. Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) has also been described as a complication of this disorder. The objective of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of SNHL in patients with KD and to determine the possible causative abnormality, correlating the findings with the prevalence of cardiac complications, with the use of gammaglobulin, and with the results of laboratory tests.

Methods: A clinical cohort of 40 patients with KD seen between 2005 and 2007 was evaluated by acoustic immittance measurement and brainstem-evoked response audiometry that were performed within the first 30 days of disease and 6 months after the first evaluation. Patients with hearing disability after this period underwent further testing through otoacoustic emissions analysis. All patients were treated with intravenous administration of immunoglobulin.

Results: Ten (25%) of the 40 patients developed coronary aneurysm, and 22 (55%) disclosed hearing loss within the first 30 days, although this problem was noticed by the parents in only 3 children. In 12 (30%), the hearing loss persisted after 6 months. Ten (83.3%) of these 12 patients also showed thrombocytosis (platelets, >500,000), 8 (66%) had anemia (hemoglobin, <10 mg/dL), and all had high erythrocyte sedimentation rate (>50 mm/hr) persisting more than 30 days.

Conclusion: SNHL was more prevalent than coronary complications. A significant association was found between persistent SNHL, although often not initially noted, with a prolonged presence of thrombocytosis, anemia, and high erythrocyte sedimentation rate and the delayed use of intravenous administration of immunoglobulin after the first 10 days of illness.

From the *Graduate Program in Health Sciences, University of Brasília School of Health Sciences; †Federal District School of Health Sciences and Rheumatology Unit, Pediatric Department, Brasilia General Hospital; ‡Neurology Department, Brasília General Hospital; §Department of Phonoaudiology, UNIPLAN-Planalto University Center; and ∥Pediatric Research Center, University of Brasilia School of Medicine, Brasilia, Distrito Federal, Brazil.

Correspondence: Riccardo Pratesi, MD, PhD, Faculdade de Medicina, Sala B1 94/13, Universidade de Brasilia, Campus Universitario Darcy Ribeiro, Asa Norte - CEP 70 910 900, Brasilia - DF - Brazil. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.