Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging in pediatric unilateral and asymmetric sensorineural hearing loss

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2006 Feb;132(2):186-92. doi: 10.1001/archotol.132.2.186.


Objective: To compare temporal bone computed tomography (CT) with temporal bone and central nervous system magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in children with unilateral or asymmetric sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL).

Design: Retrospective chart study.

Setting: Tertiary-care children's hospital.

Patients: A total of 131 children with unilateral or asymmetric SNHL, seen consecutively by a single practitioner over 36 months.

Intervention: Imaging studies were read by a pediatric neuroradiologist and reviewed by the evaluating otolaryngologist.

Main outcome measure: Prevalence of clinically significant CT or MR imaging findings.

Results: The prevalence of CT abnormalities was 35% for unilateral SNHL, 52% for asymmetric SNHL, and 41% for all patients together. The prevalence of MR imaging abnormalities was 25% for unilateral SNHL, 50% for asymmetric SNHL, and 30% for all patients together. Among 42 subjects who underwent both studies, there were 4 cases in which abnormalities were seen only on MR images and 9 cases in which abnormalities were seen only on CT scans.

Conclusions: Temporal bone and/or central nervous system abnormalities were detected in 42% of 131 patients. When both CT scans and MR images were obtained (n = 42), results were concordant in 69% of cases, and one imaging modality detected clinically significant abnormalities not identified by the other in 31% of cases. The ideal imaging algorithm for children with unilateral or asymmetric SNHL is controversial. We suggest that all children with unilateral or asymmetric SNHL have a high-resolution temporal bone CT scan and that brain and temporal bone MR imaging be obtained in select cases.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / diagnosis*
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Temporal Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Temporal Bone / pathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*