The large vestibular aqueduct syndrome

Laryngoscope. 1989 Dec;99(12):1238-42; discussion 1242-3. doi: 10.1288/00005537-198912000-00006.


It has long been known that abnormally large vestibular aqueducts may accompany congenital malformations of the cochlea and semicircular canals. Recently, enlargement of the vestibular aqueducts as the sole radiographically detectable inner ear anomaly has been recognized as a distinct pattern of congenital inner ear malformation. Pathogenesis of the large vestibular aqueduct syndrome probably stems from an early derangement in the embryogenesis of the endolymphatic duct. This anomaly appears to be relatively common in children with sensorineural hearing loss and is probably significantly underdiagnosed. Hearing loss is typically bilateral and progressive, with stepwise rather than fluctuant hearing decrements often triggered by relatively minor head trauma. A review of 17 patients (33 ears) revealed an average hearing level at presentation of 57 dB with a speech discrimination score of 66%. Considerable variability exists in hearing level among affected ears, ranging from normal hearing (4%) to profound deafness (39%). In 12 patients (23 ears) with an average long-term follow-up of 7.3 years, the hearing loss progressed by an average of 25 dB, with a drop of 29% in speech discrimination over the period of observation. An endolymphatic to subarachnoid shunt was performed on seven ears in an effort to stabilize hearing. Four of these ears had a substantial immediate postoperative drop in hearing. For this reason, endolymphatic sac surgery is not recommended for patients with this deformity.

MeSH terms

  • Audiometry
  • Child
  • Endolymphatic Sac / surgery
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / congenital*
  • Humans
  • Syndrome
  • Vertigo / etiology
  • Vestibular Aqueduct / abnormalities*
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / abnormalities*