NYMC Faculty Publications

Title

Auditory Adaptation Testing As a Tool for Investigating Tinnitus Origin: Two Patients With Vestibular Schwannoma

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-1-2017

Department

Otolaryngology

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To enhance the understanding of tinnitus origin by disseminating two case studies of vestibular schwannoma (VS) involving behavioural auditory adaptation testing (AAT). DESIGN: Retrospective case study. STUDY SAMPLE: Two adults who presented with unilateral, non-pulsatile subjective tinnitus and bilateral normal-hearing sensitivity. At the initial evaluation, the otolaryngologic and audiologic findings were unremarkable, bilaterally. Upon retest, years later, VS was identified. RESULTS: At retest, the tinnitus disappeared in one patient and was slightly attenuated in the other patient. In the former, the results of AAT were positive for left retrocochlear pathology; in the latter, the results were negative for the left ear although a moderate degree of auditory adaptation was present despite bilateral normal-hearing sensitivity. Imaging revealed a small VS in both patients, confirmed surgically. CONCLUSION: Behavioural AAT in patients with tinnitus furnishes a useful tool for exploring tinnitus origin. Decrease or disappearance of tinnitus in patients with auditory adaptation suggests that the tinnitus generator is the cochlea or the cochlear nerve adjacent to the cochlea. Patients with unilateral tinnitus and bilateral, symmetric, normal-hearing thresholds, absent other audiovestibular symptoms, should be routinely monitored through otolaryngologic and audiologic re-evaluations. Tinnitus decrease or disappearance may constitute a red flag for retrocochlear pathology.

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