The aims of this multicenter study were to prospectively evaluate the prevalence of dead regions (DRs) in sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) and compare the clinical characteristics and hearing outcomes of SSNHL according to the presence of DRs.
Patients and Methods:
The threshold-equalizing noise (TEN) test was prospectively performed on a total of 130 patients diagnosed with SSNHL. All patients received systemic steroid therapy and/or intratympanic steroid injection within 1 month after onset. Pure-tone audiograms and the TEN test were conducted before and after steroid treatment. Age, sex, side of affected ear, recurrence, onset of symptoms, presence of dizziness, and comorbid diseases were also collected. The prevalence of DRs in SSNHL and clinical factors related to the DRs were assessed. Hearing outcomes for SSNHL according to DRs were evaluated in 68 patients who followed a pure-tone audiogram.
The overall prevalence of one or more DRs in SSNHL evaluated using the TEN test was 20.8% (27/130 subjects) and the overall frequency-specific prevalence of DR was 6.7% (61/910 DRs). Although the DRs (+)and DR (−) groups had similar initial pure-tone thresholds, the DRs (+) group had significantly worse initial WRS compared to the DRs (−) group (p = 0.015). The presence of DRs was not associated with hearing recovery in a multivariate logistic regression model, but it was significantly associated with the degree of hearing gain in a multivariate linear regression model (p = 0.018).
The presence of DRs can be considered one of the poor prognostic factors for SSNHL and the TEN test may contribute to assess the prognosis of SSNHL in clinical settings.