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Sneeze-induced pneumolabyrinth 15 years after stapedotomy
  1. Ya Fang Amanda Cheang1 and
  2. Seng Beng Yeo2
  1. 1Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Woodlands Health Campus, Singapore
  2. 2Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ya Fang Amanda Cheang; dr.amanda.cheang{at}


Pneumolabyrinth refers to the presence of air within the inner ear and is a fairly common occurrence immediately after stapes surgery, but rarely occurs in a delayed manner years after the initial operation. We present a case of a patient with a history of left stapedotomy 15 years prior, who presented with acute onset vertigo, tinnitus and hearing loss in her operated ear. Her symptoms were preceded by an upper respiratory tract infection associated with bouts of sneezing. Examination revealed a spontaneous right beating nystagmus and positive head thrust to the left. Pure tone audiometry demonstrated a left mixed hearing loss which subsequently deteriorated to a profound sensorineural hearing loss. CT showed the presence of air within the left vestibule and semicircular canals. The patient underwent an exploratory tympanotomy and repair of perilymphatic leak with resolution of vestibular symptoms but no improvement in sensorineural hearing thresholds.

  • ear
  • nose and throat
  • radiology

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  • Contributors YFAC proposed the case report, conducted the literature review and composed the initial draft. SBY reviewed and approved the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.