Sensorineural Hearing Loss After Radiotherapy for Head and Neck Tumors: A Prospective Study of the Effect of Radiation

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In the treatment of head and neck cancers, the cochlea may be damaged if it is within the radiotherapy (RT) area; however, the severity and mechanism of such damage have yet to be clearly defined. The purpose of this study was to analyze the rates of early- and late-stage sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) in patients receiving RT due to head and neck cancer and to investigate the reliability of distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAEs) measurements and audiometric evaluation.

Study Design:



The study included 38 ears of 19 patients scheduled for RT due to head and neck cancer diagnoses. The patients received RT at a fractioned dose of 200 cGy (5 d/wk) and were evaluated pretreatment and posttreatment (1st and 12th mo), both audiometrically and with DPOAE measurement. Any decrease greater than 10 dB was considered SNHL. The amplitudes of DPOAE measurements were statistically compared.


The audiometric evaluation performed in the 1st posttreatment month showed no SNHL in any of the patients, whereas in the 12th month, 47% of the ears had SNHL. In all the patients that developed SNHL, the amplitudes obtained in DPOAE measurements in the first posttreatment month were statistically significantly lower.


The results of the present study show that DPOAE measurement is a reliable method for determining which patients are at risk of developing SNHL in the early post-RT period.

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