Intratympanic steroid treatment of inner ear disease and tinnitus (preliminary report)

Ear Nose Throat J. 1996 Aug;75(8):468-71, 474, 476 passim.


Intratympanic instillation of Depo-Medrol (80 mg/cc), dexamethasone ophthalmic solution (1 mg/cc), or dexamethasone intravenous (4 mg/cc) solution produces improvement of cochlear function in certain patients with Meniere's disease, autoimmune inner ear disease and sudden sensorineural deafness. Tinnitus improved in 47%, most often in patients with Meniere's disease (9 of 15; 60%). The SRT improvement of greater than 10 dB or SD greater than 15% was documented in 41% (average improvement in SRT: 15 dB; SD: 24%). Patients with tinnitus and bilateral sensorineural hearing loss (i.e., presbycusis) did not benefit from the treatment. Prior to treatment with intratympanic medication, laser assisted tympanostomy with middle ear exploration, using otoendoscopy to determine the status of the round window niche and remove mucosal folds, helps in making the round window membrane accessible to local application of drops. Placing Gelfoam into the round window niche under direct vision, and using a Venturi Bobbin tube in the tympanic membrane, appears to be a satisfactory method for delivering medication to the inner ear fluids. The medication can be injected by the physician through the tube into the middle ear, or the patient can perform self-treatment at home, placing medication in the external auditory canal. A double-blind, cross-over study in patients with Meniere's disease is now in progress with Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, which will be reported at a later date. This preliminary study has shown that intratympanic steroids may affect the symptoms of hearing loss and tinnitus in patients with various inner ear problems. Patients with Meniere's disease appear to respond in the highest percentage of cases. Hopefully, additional research will suggest the appropriate drugs which can be used to treat inner ear disease. Direct application of the drug to the round window membrane may increase the concentration in the inner ear fluids, thus avoiding the systemic effects.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology*
  • Dexamethasone / therapeutic use
  • Ear, Inner / drug effects
  • Ear, Inner / physiopathology
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meniere Disease / complications*
  • Meniere Disease / physiopathology
  • Tinnitus / complications*
  • Tinnitus / drug therapy*
  • Tympanic Membrane / drug effects*
  • Tympanic Membrane / physiopathology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Dexamethasone