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Vestibular Schwannoma & Military Personnel

Research Paper Title

Sudden and Asymmetric Hearing Loss Among Active Duty Service Members: Underscoring the Importance of Active Screening.

Abstract

Military personnel are at increased risk of asymmetric hearing loss secondary to noise exposure.

This report illustrates the importance of expeditiously evaluating for retrocochlear pathology even in young active duty service members with asymmetric or sudden hearing loss.

A 36-year-old male presented with right-sided sudden hearing loss and dizziness. Audiometry revealed profound mid-to-high-frequency sensorineural hearing loss in the right ear.

A 10-day course of oral steroid therapy and two intratympanic steroid injections were unsuccessful in restoring hearing. MRI revealed a 4.2 cm contrast-enhancing cerebellopontine angle tumour, consistent with a vestibular schwannoma (VS).

Microsurgical resection utilising a retrosigmoid craniotomy approach was performed with near-total resection of the tumour and preservation of the facial nerve but not the cochlear nerve.

Despite preservation of the facial nerve, progression of post-operative facial weakness required gold weight placement to prevent exposure keratopathy. The patient had recovered partial function in all facial nerve branches at last follow-up.

In light of the rising global incidence of VS, any asymmetric or sudden hearing loss in military service members should be evaluated with audiometry and referral to otolaryngology for workup of retrocochlear pathology.

Reference

Sommerfeldt, J.M., Marinell, J.P. & Spear, S.A. (2021) Sudden and Asymmetric Hearing Loss Among Active Duty Service Members: Underscoring the Importance of Active Screening. Military Medicine. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usab040. Online ahead of print.

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