The resilience of the inner ear-vestibular and audiometric impact of transmastoid semicircular canal plugging

J.J.A. Stultiens*, N. Guinand, V. Van Rompaey, A.P. Fornos, H.P.M. Kunst, H. Kingma, R. van de Berg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background Certain cases of superior semicircular canal dehiscence or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo can be treated by plugging of the affected semicircular canal. However, the extent of the impact on vestibular function and hearing during postoperative follow-up is not known. Objective To evaluate the evolution of vestibular function and hearing after plugging of a semicircular canal. Methods Six patients underwent testing before and 1 week, 2 months, and 6 months after plugging of the superior or posterior semicircular canal. Testing included caloric irrigation test, video Head Impulse Test (vHIT), cervical and ocular Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials (VEMPs) and audiometry. Results Initially, ipsilateral caloric response decreased in all patients and vHIT vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) gain of each ipsilateral semicircular canal decreased in 4/6 patients. In 4/6 patients, postoperative caloric response recovered to > 60% of the preoperative value. In 5/6 patients, vHIT VOR gain was restored to > 85% of the preoperative value for both ipsilateral non-plugged semicircular canals. In the plugged semicircular canal, this gain decreased in 4/5 patients and recovered to > 50% of the preoperative value. Four patients preserved cervical and ocular VEMP responses. Bone conduction hearing deteriorated in 3/6 patients, but recovered within 6 months postoperatively, although one patient had a persistent loss of 15 dB at 8 kHz. Conclusion Plugging of a semicircular canal can affect both vestibular function and hearing. After initial deterioration, most patients show recovery during follow-up. However, a vestibular function loss or high-frequency hearing loss can persist. This stresses the importance of adequate counseling of patients considering plugging of a semicircular canal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5229-5238
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number10
Early online date10 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Semicircular canals
  • Plugging
  • Occlusion
  • Vestibular function
  • Hearing
  • Vestibular implant


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