Tinnitus in vascular conflict of the eighth cranial nerve: a surgical pathophysiological approach to ABR changes
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Progress in brain research. - Amsterdam
, p. 401-411
University of Antwerp
Some forms of tinnitus are associated with a blood vessel being in close contact with the auditory nerve near its entrance into the brainstem. The outcome of operations for tinnitus, moving the blood vessel off the nerve (microvascular decompression operations, MVD) is less successful than microvascular decompression operations for other vascular conflict syndromes (hemifacial spasm, HFS, and trigeminal neuralgia, TGN). No generally accepted criteria exist for the selection of candidates for MVD for tinnitus. A pathophysiological approach for interpreting auditory brainstem response (ABR) changes is proposed as a basis for selection of tinnitus patients for the MVD operation. We followed changes in the ABR and the tinnitus in 78 patients with unilateral tinnitus, who had indications of having vascular conflicts of the eighth nerve. In 18 of these patients a blood vessel was removed of the auditory nerve and in 9 of these a correlation could be made between preoperative and postoperative clinical changes and ABR changes. In this retrospective study we found abnormalities in the amplitude of peak II and the interpeak latency (IPL) I-III of the ABR that were related to the duration of their tinnitus and its intensity. While no ABR changes could be detected during the first 2 years, after that period a decrease of the amplitude of peak II occurred, and a prolongation the IPL of peak I-III occurred in patients whose peak II had disappeared. The rate of IPL I-III increase slows down after 10 years. IPL I-III prolongation correlates with ipsilateral hearing loss at tinnitus frequency and worsens in time. This correlates with a worsening of the tinnitus associated with the worsening of the IPL I-III. Tinnitus frequency correlates to the frequency of maximal hearing loss and the more the hearing loss at tinnitus frequency the worse the tinnitus. Postoperative improvement of tinnitus correlated with postoperative improvement of peak II and postoperative improvement of hearing loss at the tinnitus frequency correlated with postoperative IPL I-III improvement. It is concluded that interpreting ABRs from a pathophysiological point of view can be beneficial for surgeons performing MVDs for tinnitus, especially with regard to timing of the surgery and interpretation of symptom presentation.