Recovery from Vestibular Ototoxicity

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ObjectiveDetermine whether subjects with documented vestibular ototoxicity recover vestibular function and, if so, investigate the recovery dynamics.Study designProspective and retrospective reviews and repeated measures.SettingClinical research and technology center.SubjectsTwenty-eight subjects who received vestibulotoxic medications were followed for at least 12 months after initial treatment.ControlsOur subject sample was compared with a published database of normal individuals.InterventionsAll 28 subjects received systemically administered medications known to be ototoxic. The subjects' treating physicians controlled medication, dosage, and administration schedules.Main Outcome MeasuresTests of horizontal canal vestibulo-ocular function were performed. Subjects' auditory and vestibular symptoms were recorded.ResultsEleven subjects (39%) showed changes in horizontal canal vestibulo-ocular gain constant (GC) and/or time constant (TC) consistent with vestibular ototoxicity. When tested 1 year after ototoxic drug administration, eight of the nine subjects who experienced ototoxic decrease in GC showed a recovery of GC to normal limits. Only one of the eight subjects who experienced ototoxic decrease in TC showed recovery of TC to within normal limits. Ototoxicity onset and recovery were independent of baseline vestibular function, and ototoxicity onset did not correlate with cumulative dose of ototoxic medication. There was no relationship between subjective symptoms and ototoxicity onset.ConclusionsRecovery of GC after vestibular ototoxicity is more commonly observed than recovery of TC. Because ototoxic changes developed and continued in an unpredictable time and manner in relation to ototoxic drug administration, we propose that once ototoxic changes in vestibulo-ocular reflex are detected, ototoxic medications should be discontinued as soon as possible.

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