To assess the incidence of central nervous system abnormalities in pediatric subjects with sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL).
One hundred forty-three pediatric subjects evaluated for SNHL at a single academic center from 2007 to 2014 were included and divided into eight diagnosis groups based on etiology of SNHL. One hundred forty-three age- and gender-matched control subjects with no known brain-related pathology or history of hearing loss were included as healthy controls for comparison. Two neuroradiologists independently evaluated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans for each subject. Comparison of abnormal cerebral development was performed using an ordinal logistic regression model. Concordance between CT and MRI of the temporal bone was assessed using the kappa statistic.
The etiologies of hearing loss in our cohort were 37.8% genetic, 12.6% infectious, 1.4% ototoxin-induced, and 48.3% idiopathic. Brain MRI revealed cerebral developmental abnormalities in defined regions in >30% of the SNHL cohort, significantly more than in normal-hearing pediatric controls. The Sylvian fissure, Virchow-Robin spaces, and lateral ventricles were most commonly affected. In the temporal bone, the percentage of subjects with concordant findings on CT and MRI was ≥92% across all anatomical structures.
MRI revealed a high incidence of intracranial abnormalities, suggestive of aberrant development of auditory and nonauditory neural structures associated with SNHL. CT and MRI share a high degree of concordance in detecting temporal bone anomalies. Inclusion of MRI as part of the workup of congenital SNHL may facilitate the detection of developmental anomalies of the brain associated with SNHL.