Sudden Bilateral Deafness

Main Article Content

Florence Morriello MD
Enrico Granieri MD



Basilar artery occlusion is associated with a high mortality rate and poor functional outcome in survivors. The most common prodromal symptoms are motor and oculomotor deficits. Hearing loss is not a major prodromal symptom. Sudden deafness usually results from either circulatory disturbances or inflammation. Deafness of vascular etiology generally occurs unilaterally. Occlusion of basilar arterial origin suggests that thrombosis is the primary mechanism of stroke, especially in elderly patients. This case highlights the importance of hearing loss as either a main manifestation or a warning of impending brainstem ischemia. Clinicians should be aware of the possibility of vertebrobasilar ischemia in patients with bilateral sudden deafness, even when classic brainstem or cerebellar signs are mild or absent. This case also highlights the importance of prodromal signs and symptoms.
Abstract 274 | PDF Downloads 256 HTML Downloads 539


1. Wu CS, Lin HC, Chao PZ. Sudden sensorineural hearing loss: evidence from Taiwan. Audiol Neurotol 2006;11:151–6.

2. Oh JH, Park K, Lee SJ, et al. Bilateral versus unilateral sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2007;136:87–91.

3. Nosrati-Zarenoe R, Arlinger S, Hultcrantz E. Idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss: results drawn from the Swedish national database. Acta Otolaryngol 2007;127:1168–75.

4. Zadeh MH, Storper IS, Spitzer JB. Diagnosis and treatment of sudden-onset sensorineural hearing loss: a study of 51 patients. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2003;128:92–8.

5. Ramussen H. Sudden deafness. Acta Otolaryngol 1941;37:65–70.

6. Chau JK, Lin JR, Atashband S, et al. Systematic review of the evidence for the etiology of adult sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Laryngoscope 2010;120:1011–21.

7. Lee H, Sohn SI, Jung DK, et al. Sudden deafness and anterior inferior cerebellar artery infarction. Stroke 2002;33:2807–12.

8. Sauvaget E, Kici S, Petelle B, et al. Vertebrobasilar occlusive disorders presenting as sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Laryngoscope 2004;114:327–32.

9. Deschauer M, Georgiadis D, Lindner A. Hearing loss as the leading symptom in anterior inferior cerebellar artery infarction. Fortschr Neurol Psychiatr 1998;66:109–12.

10. Caplan LR, Wityk RJ, Glass TA, et al. New England Medical Center Posterior Circulation Registry. Ann Neurol 2004;56:389–98.