Imaging Parameters of the Ipsilateral Medial Geniculate Body May Predict Prognosis of Patients with Idiopathic Unilateral Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss on the Basis of Diffusion Spectrum Imaging

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2020 Nov 19. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A6874. Online ahead of print.


Background and purpose: Idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss is an acute unexplained onset of hearing loss. We examined the central auditory pathway abnormalities in patients with unilateral idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss using diffusion spectrum imaging and the relationships between hearing recovery and diffusion spectrum imaging parameters.

Materials and methods: Forty-eight patients with unilateral idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss with a duration of ≤2 weeks (range, 8.9 ± 4.3 days) and 20 healthy subjects underwent diffusion spectrum imaging tractography. Hearing levels were evaluated using a pure-tone average at initial presentation and 3-month follow-up. Clinical characteristics and MR imaging findings were assessed.

Results: Compared with healthy control subjects, the generalized fractional anisotropy values of patients decreased significantly in the bilateral posterior limbs of the internal capsule, with no differences between the ipsilateral and contralateral sides. The quantitative anisotropy values decreased in the Brodmann area 41, contralateral medial geniculate body, bilateral lateral lemniscus, anterior limb of internal capsule, middle temporal gyrus, and anterior corona radiata. Furthermore, at 3-month follow-up, 14 patients had <15 dB of hearing gain. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis demonstrated that generalized fractional anisotropy in the ipsilateral medial geniculate body was related to prognosis (sensitivity = 64.7%; specificity = 85.7%; area under the curve = 0.796, 95% CI, 0.661-0.931; P < .01).

Conclusions: Diffusion spectrum imaging can detect abnormalities of white matter microstructure along the central auditory pathway in patients with unilateral idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss. The generalized fractional anisotropy value of the ipsilateral medial geniculate body may help to predict recovery outcomes.