Background and purpose: Waardenburg syndrome, characterized by deafness and pigmentation abnormalities, is clinically and genetically heterogeneous, consisting of 4 distinct subtypes and involving several genes. SOX10 mutations have been found both in types 2 and 4 Waardenburg syndrome and neurologic variants. The purpose of this study was to evaluate both the full spectrum and relative frequencies of inner ear malformations in these patients.
Materials and methods: Fifteen patients with Waardenburg syndrome and different SOX10 mutations were studied retrospectively. Imaging was performed between February 2000 and March 2010 for cochlear implant work-up, diagnosis of hearing loss, and/or evaluation of neurologic impairment. Eleven patients had both CT and MR imaging examinations, 3 had MR imaging only, and 1 had CT only.
Results: Temporal bone abnormalities were bilateral. The most frequent pattern associated agenesis or hypoplasia of ≥1 semicircular canal, an enlarged vestibule, and a cochlea with a reduced size and occasionally an abnormal shape, but with normal partition in the 13/15 cases that could be analyzed. Three patients lacked a cochlear nerve, bilaterally in 2 patients. In addition, associated abnormalities were found when adequate MR imaging sequences were available: agenesis of the olfactory bulbs (7/8), hypoplastic or absent lacrimal glands (11/14), hypoplastic parotid glands (12/14), and white matter signal anomalies (7/13).
Conclusions: In the appropriate clinical context, bilateral agenesis or hypoplasia of the semicircular canals or both, associated with an enlarged vestibule and a cochlear deformity, strongly suggests a diagnosis of Waardenburg syndrome linked to a SOX10 mutation.