Is there a relation between sudden sensorineural hearing loss and white matter lesions?

Massimo Fusconi, Giuseppe Attanasio, Flavia Capitani, Edoardo Di Porto, Davide Diacinti, Isotta Musy, Massimo Ralli, Giovanni Ralli, Antonio Greco, Marco de Vincentiis, Claudio Colonnese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) has similarities to conditions with vascular etiologies such as myocardial infarction and cerebral stroke. Thus, it could be considered as an early sign of a vascular disease and not only a specific local condition. Chronic hypoperfusion in the brain districts leads to a chronic ischemic damage, called cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD), detectable with brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

METHODS: The authors used CSVD to establish the presence of vascular risk factors in individuals with SSNHL and used the Fazekas score scale to classify them.

RESULTS: Our study showed that individuals with SSNHL aged between 48 and 60 years have 26% more probability to have a Fazekas score higher than 1 compared to the general population. Individuals younger than 28 years showed a statistically significant negative correlation to have a Fazekas score higher than 0. The higher is the Fazekas score, the less is the probability of hearing recovery. The medium hearing-recovery probability is 46%. This decreases by 16% for every increase of score in the Fazekas scale. In the present study, the recovery probability decreased from 80% in individuals younger than 48 years with a score of 0 to 14% in individuals with a Fazekas scores of 3 and 4.

CONCLUSIONS: The authors assessed a higher prevalence of CSVD compared to the general population in patients aged between 48 and 60 years with SSNHL. Moreover, they assessed that the presence of CSVD is related to a decreased probability of recovery, as it has already been demonstrated for stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3043-3049
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Brain/diagnostic imaging
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases/complications
  • Cochlear Diseases/etiology
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural/etiology
  • Hearing Loss, Sudden/etiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • White Matter/diagnostic imaging
  • Young Adult


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