Primary treatment of idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss with intratympanic dexamethasone

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Purpose of review

Systemic corticosteroids have been the mainstay of treatment of idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss (ISSNHL) for over 30 years. Recently, intratympanic steroids have risen in popularity; however, there is no consensus regarding the details of their application. The purpose of this article is to review the current literature and share our opinion that intratympanic dexamethasone (alone or with systemic steroids) should be offered as primary treatment of ISSNHL.

Recent findings

Intratympanic steroids have been shown to result in higher inner ear concentrations than systemic steroids in animal and human studies. Primary treatment of ISSNHL with intratympanic steroids in combination with systemic steroids has been demonstrated to result in better hearing outcomes than systemic steroids alone. Recent evidence has revealed these hearing outcomes to be dependent on the dose of intratympanic steroid. Dexamethasone may be better absorbed than methylprednisolone, and potentially offer a greater benefit. Furthermore, intratympanic steroids provide an effective alternative for patients who cannot tolerate systemic steroids.


Intratympanic dexamethasone alone, or in combination with systemic steroids, provides effective treatment of ISSNHL and should be utilized as primary treatment. Further investigation is required to determine the optimal choice, concentration, and administration schedule of intratympanic steroids.

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