CT characteristics of dehiscent sigmoid plates presenting as pulsatile tinnitus: a study of 23 patients

Acta Radiol. 2015 Nov;56(11):1404-8. doi: 10.1177/0284185114559762. Epub 2014 Nov 24.


Background: Although some features of dehiscent sigmoid plates as a cause of pulsatile tinnitus (PT) have been reported, detailed imaging findings have not been evaluated.

Purpose: To retrospectively evaluate the computed tomography (CT) features of dehiscent sigmoid plates associated with PT.

Material and methods: The CT images of 23 PT patients were assessed to evaluate the features of the dehiscent sigmoid plates, lateral sinuses, and temporal bone pneumatization.

Results: A total of 31 defects were found on the PT side. Twenty-five defects involved the superior curve or the descending segment, four involved above both sites, and only two involved the inferior curve. Twenty-six defects involved the anterior border or the anterolateral border, and only five involved the lateral border of the sigmoid sinus. The dehiscent sigmoid plate was on the dominant side in all 18 patients with a unilateral dominant lateral sinus, and on the right side in two patients and on the left side in three patients with co-dominant lateral sinuses. Fourteen patients had hyperpneumatization and nine had good pneumatization of temporal bone. Fifteen of the 17 patients with resolution of PT after surgery had a single defect. Four of the six patients with persistence of PT after surgery had more than one defect.

Conclusion: Sigmoid plate dehiscence often involves the anterior or anterolateral border of the superior curve or the descending segment of the sigmoid sinus on the side of the dominant lateral sinus, which often coexists with extensive pneumatization of the temporal bone.

Keywords: Pulsatile tinnitus; computed tomography; sigmoid plate; temporal bone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Contrast Media
  • Cranial Sinuses / injuries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iopamidol
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiographic Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tinnitus / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tinnitus / etiology*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*


  • Contrast Media
  • Iopamidol