[Diagnostic clues in pulsatile tinnitus (somatosounds)]

Acta Otorrinolaringol Esp. 2007 Nov;58(9):426-33.
[Article in Spanish]


Pulsatile tinnitus is a sound from within the body, mostly of vascular origin, that stimulates the patient's hearing in the same way as an external sound does, generally at the same pace as the pulse. Although not frequent, the diagnosis of its cause is crucial because of its potential severity in some cases. This article describes some of the diagnostic clues for arterial causes (arteriosclerosis, aberrant carotid artery, arteriovenous fistula or malformations, increased vascularization in Paget's disease) and venous causes (benign intracranial hypertension, high jugular bulb). In some cases we have to rule out other systemic diseases as hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia or hyperthyroidism. A pathological otoscopy result may be secondary to a tympanic glomus. A guided medical history and an algorithm for complementary tests (magnetic resonance or angio-resonance imaging, computerized tomography, blood test, Doppler ultrasonography) may resolve the diagnostic puzzle of pulsatile tinnitus. We present our experience in 80 cases. The most frequent aetiology has been the arteriosclerosis of the carotid artery (17.5 %) and the benign intracranial hypertension syndrome (10 %).

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Arteriovenous Fistula / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / diagnosis*
  • Intracranial Hypertension / diagnosis*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tinnitus / diagnosis*
  • Tinnitus / physiopathology*