Background and purpose: Our purpose was to determine the frequency of abnormal findings on contrast-enhanced high-resolution MR imaging studies in patients with sudden hearing loss.
Methods: Seventy-eight consecutive patients with sudden hearing loss underwent contrast-enhanced MR imaging of the temporal bone, cerebellopontine angle, and brain. Additional tests included audiologic examination, electrocochleography, fistula tests, and serologic tests for viral agents and autoimmune disorders.
Results: Probable causes of the sudden hearing loss in these patients included viral or immune-mediated disease, Meniere disease, vascular disorder, syphilis, neoplasm, multiple sclerosis, and perilymphatic fistula. Twenty-four (31%) of the 78 patients were found to have abnormal imaging results early in the course of their work up and treatment.
Conclusion: The prevalence of abnormal findings on contrast-enhanced MR studies is higher than previously reported in patients with sudden hearing loss.