High Resolution MRI Shows Presence of Endolymphatic Hydrops in Patients Still Symptomatic After Endolymphatic Shunt Surgery

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Endolymphatic hydrops has been well described in patients with Ménière's syndrome; however, causation has not been established. Decompression of the endolymphatic sac has been proposed as a means to relieve hydrops and improve vertigo symptoms, but the efficacy of the surgery is debated. Until recently, there have been few objective measures of efficacy other than patients’ subjective symptoms. Recent archival human temporal bone studies have shown that patients continue to have hydrops after shunt surgery. We propose using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine the efficacy of endolymphatic shunt surgery (ELS) in patients who continue to experience vertigo.


Four patients presented with continued vertigo after ELS.


Magnetic resonance imaging sequences included “cisternographic” three-dimensional T2, and delayed intravenous-enhanced three-dimensional fluid-attenuation inversion recovery (DIVE-3D-FLAIR) sequences, performed with 2350 ms (bright perilymph) and 2050 ms (bright endolymph) inversion times. The bright endolymph images were subtracted from bright perilymph images to create a composite image with bright perilymph, dark endolymph, and intermediate bone signals.

Main Outcome Measures:

MRI finding of endolymphatic hydrops.


In all five affected ears in four patients who continued to experience severe vertigo, hydrops was found on high resolution MRI on the operated ear. The appearance on MRI was no different than in patients with endolymphatic hydrops (EH) who have not had surgery.


The present study demonstrates the persistence of endolymphatic hydrops in patients who have failed ELS. Future studies evaluating for the presence or absence of endolymphatic hydrops in patients who claim to obtain relief from ELS.

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