To identify the incidence of retrocochlear pathology on MRI in patients with non-pulsatile tinnitus.Study Design:
Tertiary referral center.Patients:
Adults with MRIs performed between March 1, 2008 and February 1, 2014 for non-pulsatile tinnitus with or without hearing loss.Intervention:
MRI.Main Outcome Measure:
Incidence of retrocochlear pathology.Results:
Of the 218 patients who met inclusion criteria, 198 (91.3%) had unremarkable MRIs. Six patients (2.7%) had MRI findings that accounted for their tinnitus. Of these patients, five had unilateral tinnitus with asymmetric hearing loss because of acoustic neuroma found on MRI. One patient presented with bilateral tinnitus with asymmetric hearing loss and was found to have a right acoustic neuroma. Twenty (9.2%) patients had bilateral or unilateral tinnitus without hearing loss, all with unremarkable MRIs. Fourteen patients (6.4%) had incidental findings including two acoustic neuromas that were identified contralateral to the side of presenting tinnitus.Conclusions:
Imaging should be used judiciously in the evaluation of tinnitus. Patients with unilateral tinnitus and asymmetric hearing loss were most likely to have abnormal findings. The majority of MRIs performed for tinnitus were normal in our study. Given the low incidence of MRI findings in the workup of tinnitus, every effort should be made to optimize screening protocols. Noncontrasted fast spin-echo T2-weighted MRI should be used to assess patients with tinnitus when there is low suspicion for retrocochlear pathology. Patients with unilateral non-pulsatile tinnitus with symmetric hearing may be observed, but clinical judgement should determine the need for further imaging.