Middle ear pressure and dysfunction of the labyrinth: is there a relationship?
ABSTRACT Relationships between middle ear pressure and non-infection-related cochleovestibular dysfunction have been suggested by several authors. According to some data, vertiginous attacks can be prevented by the insertion of a ventilation tube in patients suffering from Meniere's syndrome. The aim of our study was to investigate if the incidence of eustachian tube malfunction and pathologic middle ear pressure is frequent, and if routine implantation of ventilation tubes is reasonable in ears with dysfunctions of the labyrinth, including clinical Meniere's syndrome. So, we determined in our pressure chamber all active and passive parameters of eustachian tube function in 40 patients suffering from Meniere's syndrome, sudden sensory hearing impairment (SSHI), or vestibular neuronitis. Our results disclosed no nonrandom incidence of impaired tubal function among our patients compared to healthy control subjects. Pressure equalization was sufficient in most patients suffering from clinical Meniere's syndrome, and only one patient with vestibular neuronitis presented with a patulous tube. Our results show that impairment of vestibular or cochlear function is not regularly accompanied by eustachian tube dysfunction. Furthermore, no patient reported symptoms while pressure variation was performed. We conclude that variation of middle ear pressure does not usually play a role in the genesis of Meniere's syndrome, vestibular neuronitis, or SSHI. Thus, from our data, we cannot recommend routine implantation of tympanic ventilation tubes in patients suffering from Meniere's syndrome, vestibular neuronitis, or sudden hearing loss.