Auditory evoked potentials are effected by benzodiazepines, as is cortical processing of auditory stimuli.The effect of benzodiazepines on auditory sensitivity has not, however, been studied. We designed the present study to investigate the effect of sedative doses of midazolam on pure tone and speech audiometry and on audiological reaction times in healthy volunteers. Thirty volunteers underwent baseline audiological assessment for pure tones and speech and had their audiological reaction times measured at 10 and 50 dB above their threshold hearing level at a frequency of 1 kHz. Subjects were then randomly assigned to one of two groups. Group A (n = 15) received midazolam (0.04 mg/kg) IV, and Group B (n = 15) received a similar volume of placebo IV. The audiological tests were repeated 5 min later, and performance was compared with baseline data. Scheffe post hoc tests were used to assess the significance of changes in each group. There was no pre- to posttest change in audiological performance in either the placebo group (P = 0.194) or the midazolam group (P = 0.957). Speech audiometry performance was likewise unaffected by midazolam (P = 0.154). Reaction time at the 10-dB and 50-dB sensation levels were both significantly prolonged after midazolam administration (P = 0.023 and P = 0.012, respectively). In this study, we demonstrate that sedation with midazolam (0.04 mg/kg) does not alter pure tone or speech audiometric thresholds, but it does significantly delay the reaction time to auditory stimuli. Medical practitioners should advise midazolam-sedated patients of their impaired reaction to auditory warning signals (e.g., traffic and car horns) as part of the day-ward discharge recommendations. Implications: In this study, we demonstrate that sedation of healthy volunteers with the benzodiazepine midazolam, in the common clinical dosage, does not affect their hearing capability as measured by pure tone and speech audiometry. However, one's ability to react to auditory signals is impaired after midazolam, which may have implications for patients after day-case procedures.
(Anesth Analg 1999;88:1064-8)