Imaging evaluation of sensorineural hearing loss

Semin Ultrasound CT MR. 2001 Jun;22(3):229-49. doi: 10.1016/s0887-2171(01)90009-5.


The imaging evaluation of patients with sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) focuses on the acoustic pathways from the cochlea to the auditory cortex. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the modality of choice for most patients with SNHL, though computed tomography (CT) also plays an important role in the evaluation of bony changes and in patients for whom MRI is contraindicated. Conventional enhanced MRI is the most commonly used technique in this clinical setting. High-resolution fast spin-echo T2 MRI is an adjunctive technique that provides exquisite evaluation of the cerebellopontine angle (CPA), internal auditory canal (IAC), cranial nerves, and membranous labyrinth, and plays a significant role in the diagnosis and surgical evaluation of SNHL. Categories of lesions that cause SNHL include brain lesions involving central auditory pathways; neoplasms of the CPA and IAC, the most common being schwannoma; other neoplastic, congenital, and cystic masses of the CPA and IAC; congenital anomalies of the inner ear; intrinsic cochlear nerve defects, inflammatory processes of the inner ear; and temporal bone trauma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cranial Nerve Neoplasms / complications
  • Cranial Nerve Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Ear, Inner / abnormalities
  • Ear, Inner / pathology*
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / diagnosis
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / complications
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / diagnosis
  • Radiography
  • Temporal Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Temporal Bone / pathology*
  • Vestibulocochlear Nerve / anatomy & histology
  • Vestibulocochlear Nerve / pathology