Factors influencing the outcome of idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2011 Jan;268(1):41-7. doi: 10.1007/s00405-010-1336-6. Epub 2010 Jul 14.


Idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss (ISSNHL) is an otologic emergency with an incidence of about 5-20 per 100,000 of the population per year. There is no universally accepted standard protocol for the treatment of patients with ISSNHL. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), was first reported to improve the outcome following acute inner ear disorders during the late 1960s by both French and German authors. The increase in perilymph oxygenation produced by HBOT provides logical basis for the use of this treatment modality in ISSNHL. We reviewed the records of 97 cases that received HBOT for SSNHL to identify the factors that may affect the treatment outcomes. The effects of age, gender, affected ear, status of the contralateral ear, symptoms associated with hearing loss, presence of a cardiovascular disease, dyslipidemia, history of diabetes mellitus, seasonal factor, smoking, degree of hearing loss, audiogram type, medical treatments provided prior to HBOT, onset time, and number of HBOT sessions were evaluated. The mean hearing gain in all cases after the HBOT was 29.5 dB. The gains were statistically significant in the following cases: early onset of HBOT (p = 0.016), higher number of HBOT sessions (p < 0.01), steroid usage (p = 0.009), low frequency-ascending and total audiogram configuration (p < 0.01) and profound hearing loss (p = 0.011). The success rate was significantly lower in cases with high frequency-descending audiogram configuration (p < 0.001). The most important factor affected the prognosis favorably was found as steroid therapy. This retrospective study and our clinical experience suggest that HBOT has beneficial effects when administered in the early phase of the disease together with steroids. HBOT is a safe practice when used properly by an experienced hyperbaric team. In the treatment of ISSNHL, 20 sessions of HBOT at 2.5 ATA can be tolerated well besides some minor side effects. HBOT should be considered for the cases especially with total or profound hearing loss.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / therapy*
  • Hearing Loss, Sudden / therapy*
  • Hearing Tests
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation / methods*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Treatment Outcome