Enhanced Auditory Sensitivity to Body Vibrations in Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome

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Abstract

A key feature of superior canal dehiscence (SCD) syndrome is supranormal hearing of body sounds. The aim of the present study was to quantify this phenomenon and to ascertain whether auditory sensitivity to body vibrations can distinguish SCD patients. Hearing thresholds in response to vibration at the vertex, at the spinous process of the 7th cervical vertebra, and at the medial malleolus were tested in 10 SCD patients and 10 controls. Both patients and controls had insert earphones in both ears. The insert in the test ear was blocked while masking was presented to the other ear. Vibration in the frequency range of 125-1,000 Hz was presented to each of the 3 stimulation sites. The SCD patients were found to have significantly lower hearing thresholds compared with controls. The two study groups reacted differently with respect to frequency. The SCD patients showed an enhanced sensitivity for the lower stimulus frequencies. The difference was, however, rather independent of stimulus presentation site. The findings suggest that hearing thresholds in response to low-frequency body vibration at sites distant from the ears can distinguish SCD patients. The present findings may also support the idea that auditory sensation to body vibrations is a response related to soft tissue conduction.

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