Vestibular-evoked myogenic potentials in three patients with large vestibular aqueduct

Hear Res. 2004 Apr;190(1-2):161-8. doi: 10.1016/S0378-5955(04)00018-8.


An enlarged vestibular aqueduct (LVA) is a common congenital inner ear anomaly responsible for some unusual vestibular and audiological symptoms. Most of the cases show bilateral early onset and progressive hearing loss in children. The gross appearance on CT scan of the inner ear is generally normal. However, precise measurements of the inner ear components reveal abnormal dimensions, which may account for the accompanying auditory and vestibular dysfunction. Despite extensive studies on hearing and the vestibular apparatus, saccular function is not studied. To our knowledge this is the first report of saccular malfunction in three patients with LVA by means of vestibular evoked myogenic potentials. Conventional audiograms revealed bilateral severe sensorineural hearing loss in two patients and mixed type hearing loss in one patient. Two of the patients complained about vertigo and dizziness but vestibular assessments of the patients showed normal results. The diagnosis had been made by high-resolution CT scans and MR images of the skull that showed LVA in the absence of other anomalies. The VEMP threshold measured from the ear with LVA in two patients with unilateral enlargement of the vestibular aqueduct was 75-80 dB nHL whereas the threshold from normal ears was 95 dB nHL. The third patient with mixed type hearing loss and bilateral LVA had VEMP responses despite a big air-bone gap in the low frequency range. The VEMP in this patient was greater in amplitude and lower in threshold in the operated ear (the patient had a tympanoplasty which did not improve her hearing). These findings and results of other patients with Tullio phenomenon and superior semicircular canal dehiscence, who also showed lower VEMP threshold, confirmed the theory of a 'third window' that allows volume and pressure displacements, and thus larger deflection of the vestibular sensors, which would cause the vestibular organ to be more responsive to sound and pressure changes.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss, Bilateral / diagnosis
  • Hearing Loss, Bilateral / etiology
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / diagnosis
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / etiology
  • Humans
  • Saccule and Utricle / physiopathology*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Vestibular Aqueduct / abnormalities*
  • Vestibular Aqueduct / physiopathology*
  • Vestibular Diseases / complications
  • Vestibular Diseases / congenital
  • Vestibular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Vestibular Function Tests