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Sneeze-induced pneumolabyrinth 15 years after stapedotomy

Abstract

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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