Acute vertigo and sensorineural hearing loss from infarction of the vestibulocochlear nerve: A case report

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Abstract

Rationale:

Acute unilateral audiovestibulopathy is a common neurotological syndrome. Differential diagnoses of acute unilateral audiovestibulopathy include viral infection, vascular insults, and tumors. Regarding vascular causes, ischemic stroke in the anterior inferior cerebellar artery (AICA) territory is known to be the leading cause of acute audiovestibular loss. Previous reports of AICA infarction with audiovestibulopathy failed to demonstrate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-positive vestibulocochlear infarctions. Only 1 report demonstrated acute infarction involving the vestibulocochlear nerve on diffusion weighted imaging (DWI)-MRI.

Patient concerns:

A 67 year old man complained of sudden left hearing loss and vertigo. The patient showed left horizontal gaze-evoked nystagmus (GEN) and the head impulse test (HIT) was positive on the left side. Videonystagmography revealed spontaneous rebound nystagmus toward the right side; head-shaking nystagmus toward the right side. The patient presented with left caloric paresis (20.1%). Pure tone audiometry (PTA) revealed severe sensorineural hearing loss on the left side.

Diagnosis:

MRI of temporal bone showed multifocal acute infarctions in the left inferior cerebellum. Moreover, images revealed tiny infarctions along the left vestibulocochlear nerve and the cochlea, implying acute vestibulocochlear nerve and labyrinthine infarction. There was no evidence of steno-occlusion of major cerebral vessels on MR angiography.

Interventions:

Immediate stroke management was done.

Outcomes:

Neurological symptoms gradually improved after 3 to 5 days.

Lessons:

We present a case illustrating a rare but significant finding of vestibulocochlear nerve infarction revealed by DWI-MRI. Prompt imaging protocol enabled the detection of significant findings in this patient with acute unilateral audiovestibulopathy. Clinicians should be aware of the vestibulocochlear nerve and labyrinth on MRI in patients with cerebellar stroke.

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