MRI in patients with otovestibular complaints of unknown origin

V. Nowé, P. Van De Heyning, P. M. Parizel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The place of MRI in the diagnostic work-up of patients with bilateral perceptive hearing loss, tinnitus and vertigo is under discussion. The purpose of this study is to investigate the role of MRI in patients with otovestibular and cranial nerve complaints of unknown aetiology. Methodology: After thorough otologic examination, 430 patients were consecutively referred for an MR examination of the cerebellopontine angle. Results: The detection rate for essential lesions was 4.9%. Two groups of retrocochlear lesions were frequently observed: central WMLs/atrophy and neurovascular conflict affecting a cranial nerve. Conclusions: MR imaging of the cerebellopontine angle, fossa posterior and petrous bones makes it possible to observe abnormalities of the vestibulocochlear nerve and inner ear. Additional T2-weighted FSE images of the whole brain make it possible to evaluate the occurrence of early central lesions. This imaging protocol can diagnose essential lesions relating directly to the complaint in 4.9% of the patients with hearing loss, subjective tinnitus or vertigo. We frequently observed two groups of lesions of uncertain significance in our study population. WMLs are present in 50% of patients with a mean age of 59 years. In the younger subpopulation aged under 51 years the prevalence of WMLs is 24%. It remains unclear whether these lesions can be accounted for by the diversity of symptoms with which the patients presented. In addition, we found a high number of neurovascular conflicts involving different cranial nerves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-35
Number of pages9
Issue numberSUPPL. 7
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


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