Potential Benefits of Combination Therapy as Primary Treatment for Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2016 Feb;154(2):328-34. doi: 10.1177/0194599815615121. Epub 2015 Nov 10.


Objective: We analyzed the effectiveness of combination therapy (CT) for idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss (ISSNHL) and the utility of intratympanic dexamethasone injection (ITDI) reapplication as salvage treatment for ISSNHL refractory to CT.

Study design: Case series with chart review.

Setting: Academic university hospital.

Subjects and methods: We reviewed 229 patients with ISSNHL and divided these patients into 2 groups according to treatment: systemic steroid therapy (SST) and CT groups. The SST group received prednisolone therapy. The CT group also received ITDI daily. Patients who demonstrated no recovery (<10 dB) after initial treatment were defined as refractory and received salvage ITDI therapy: ITDI reapplication in the CT group and ITDI application in the SST group.

Results: Hearing recovery rates were 77.8% (77/99) in the CT group and 60.8% (79/130) in the SST group. The difference was statistically significant (P = .011). Initial pure-tone audiometry and vertigo were affective factors on hearing recovery rates in the CT group. After salvage therapy, hearing improvement of 10 dB or greater was noted in 6 of the 22 (27.3%) patients in the CT group and 16 of the 51 (31.4%) patients in the SST group. The difference in efficacy of salvage therapy between the CT and SST groups was simply not significant (P = .612).

Conclusions: Combination therapy was more effective for ISSNHL in achieving hearing gain than SST alone. Furthermore, ITDI reapplication for ISSNHL refractory to CT was as effective as salvage ITDI for ISSNHL refractory to SST.

Keywords: combination therapy; intratympanic steroids; salvage therapy; sudden hearing loss.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Dexamethasone / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Hearing / physiology*
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / physiopathology
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / therapy*
  • Hearing Loss, Sudden / physiopathology
  • Hearing Loss, Sudden / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Injection, Intratympanic
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Middle Ear Ventilation / methods*
  • Prednisolone / administration & dosage
  • Recovery of Function / physiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Dexamethasone
  • Prednisolone