Incus necrosis after irradiation

Otol Neurotol. 2013 Dec;34(9):1699-702. doi: 10.1097/MAO.0b013e31829a3593.


Objectives: Osteoradionecrosis (ORN) of the temporal bone is a rare, late complication of radiotherapy to the temporal bone region for head and neck or skull base tumours. ORN can occur as a localized or a diffuse type, according to the extension of the affected temporal bone. It can lead to otitis externa, otitis media, aseptic labyrinthitis and may lead to serious intracranial complications. Hearing loss may be conductive, sensorineural, or mixed. A few case studies report of previously irradiated patients presenting with conductive hearing loss presumably caused by ORN of the ossicular chain. In only one case report of diffuse ORN, ORN of the ossicles was histologically proven, leading to the conclusion that ossicular chain involvement as the sole entity of ORN would not exist. However, the presented case report disputes this.

Patients: A 13-year-old boy presenting with a unilateral mixed hearing loss as the sole otological complaint, 10 years after radiotherapy for an anaplastic ependymoma.

Results: Middle ear inspection revealed ORN of the incus which was confirmed by histological investigation.

Conclusion: ORN of the ossicular chain as a late complication can occur as an isolated entity and may present as conductive hearing loss predominantly in the low frequencies. Middle ear inspection and ossicular chain reconstruction should be attempted, bearing in mind the risk of iatrogenic lacerations of a thin tympanic membrane and possibly a delayed wound healing.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Ependymoma / radiotherapy
  • Hearing Loss, Mixed Conductive-Sensorineural / etiology*
  • Hearing Loss, Mixed Conductive-Sensorineural / pathology
  • Hearing Loss, Mixed Conductive-Sensorineural / surgery
  • Humans
  • Incus / pathology
  • Incus / radiation effects*
  • Incus / surgery
  • Male
  • Ossicular Prosthesis
  • Osteoradionecrosis / complications*
  • Osteoradionecrosis / pathology
  • Osteoradionecrosis / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome