Increased risk of sensorineural hearing loss in patients with spinal cord injury: a nationwide longitudinal follow-up study

Spinal Cord. 2021 Nov;59(11):1200-1205. doi: 10.1038/s41393-021-00697-3. Epub 2021 Aug 20.


Study design: Retrospective cohort study with 10 years follow-up.

Objective: To compare the risks of sensorineural hearing loss in patients with and without spinal cord injury, based on a nationally representative sample.

Setting: Taiwan's Longitudinal Health Insurance Database 2005.

Method: A total of 2006 participants who had been aged between 20 and 69 and who had spinal cord injury as of 2002-06 were enrolled in the spinal cord injury group. The non-spinal cord injury group consisted of 8024 sex- and age-matched, randomly sampled participants without spinal cord injury. Then, their sensorineural hearing loss -cumulative incidence curves were generated using the Kaplan-Meier method. Stratified Cox proportional-hazard regression was employed to estimate the effect of having spinal cord injury on patients' subsequent risk of sensorineural hearing loss.

Results: During the follow-up, 30 patients in the spinal cord injury group and 87 in the non-spinal cord injury group developed sensorineural hearing loss. As such, the cumulative incidence of sensorineural hearing loss was significantly higher in the spinal cord injury group than the non-spinal cord injury group (2.16 vs. 1.21 per 1000 person-years, p = 0.008). The adjusted hazard ratio of sensorineural hearing loss for the spinal cord injury group was 1.75 times that of the non-spinal cord injury group (95% CI, 1.14-2.68, p = 0.01). The patients with non-cervical SCI appeared to have a higher magnitude of SNHL risk than their cervical SCI counterparts.

Conclusion: Our study showed that patients with spinal cord injury have an increased risk of developing sensorineural hearing loss.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural* / epidemiology
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / complications
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Taiwan / epidemiology
  • Young Adult