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Frequency Specificity of Cochlear Damage in Acute Electrical Injury: A Longitudinal Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emission Study

Satar, Bülent; Talas, Derya U.; Akkaya, Abdullah; Özkaptan, Yalçnı

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Hypothesis To understand cochlear dysfunction and the recovery pattern of the cochlea after acute electrical injury.

Background The cochlea is believed to be more vulnerable to direct current than to alternating current. However, the damage-and frequency-specific recovery characteristics of the cochlea have not been well described.

Methods Baseline distortion product otoacoustic emission measurements were taken via transtympanic electrodes from 19 guinea pigs. A 20-Hz alternating current and a positive direct current, both at a 1,000-μA intensity, were applied to 9 and 10 animals, respectively. The measurements were repeated immediately after the application of current and after 10 days. Comparisons were made for both groups individually in signalto-noise ratios obtained before and immediately after, immediately and 10 days after, and before and 10 days after the application of electrical current.

Results Alternating and direct currents caused a significant depression in signal-to-noise ratio immediately after the application. However, 10 days later, the mean signal-to-noise ratio in the animals subjected to alternating current came significantly close to the baseline value, particularly between the frequencies of 2,211 and 3,717 Hz. By contrast, the mean signal-to-noise ratio in the animals subjected to direct current remained significantly depressed throughout all frequencies except for 2,211 Hz.

Conclusion Baseline distortion product otoacoustic emission measurements enabled cochlear function to be monitored in a frequency-specific manner after electrical injury. The functional damages were quantitatively close to each other for both types of currents at a given intensity. Nevertheless, recovery was more apparent in the animals exposed to alternating current than in those exposed to direct current. Recovery was also better in the midfrequency region than in higher frequencies. It is hypothesized that the reason for the difference in recovery in both groups was the net charge left by direct current.

Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Gülhane Military Medical Academy, Ankara, Turkey

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Bülent Satar, M.D., GATA, KBB Anabilim Dali, 06010 Etlik-Ankara, Turkey. Email:

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.