Lidocaine for the relief of incapacitating tinnitus.
Tinnitus is tolerated by most patients, but in others it is enough of a problem that they seek medical attention. Results of treatment have been mixed. On occasion, a patient is so distressed by tinnitus that he or she is incapacitated and seeks help in an emergency department. We describe what we believe is the first reported case of recurrent incapacitating tinnitus secondary to inner ear tertiary syphilis in which a patient successfully responded to emergency treatment with intravenous lidocaine.
Tinnitus has many etiologies (table), and it is usually accompanied by sensorineural hearing loss Sensorineural hearing loss
Hearing loss caused by damage to the nerves or parts of the inner ear governing the sense of hearing.
Mentioned in: Tinnitus
sensorineural hearing loss . Countless numbers of people around the world live in a certain degree of harmony with their tinnitus. At some point, many of them have been examined by an otolaryngologist who provided treatment and advice to no avail. Most patients eventually realize that they simply must accept their tinnitus. However, on occasion, tinnitus is severe enough to warrant a visit to an emergency department and subsequent hospitalization.
In this article, we describe the case of a patient with a history of chronic tinnitus secondary to tertiary otosyphilis who developed an incapacitating exacerbation of her condition and who was treated successfully on an emergency basis with intravenous lidocaine.
A 48-year-old black woman underwent evaluation for an 8-year history of episodic vertigo, tinnitus, and progressive bilateral hearing loss. The results of a fluorescent treponcmal antibody absorption (FTA-ABS FTA-ABS Fluorescent treponemal antibody-absorption, see there ) test were positive, and she was diagnosed with tertiary otosyphilis. On the recommendation of an infectious disease consultant, she was treated with IV penicillin and a steroid for 6 weeks. However, numerous modes of medical therapy had not completely relieved her otologic symptoms. Although her vertigo and tinnitus had diminished somewhat, her hearing loss continued to worsen.
Several months later, the patient presented to the emergency department with a 3-week history of progressively louder tinnitus, which had reached the point that it caused her a great deal of discomfort and incapacitation. In fact, she was unable to function. She requested emergency admission to the hospital because she said her tinnitus was "driving me crazy." She described her tinnitus as "roaring" and not pulsatile pulsatile /pul·sa·tile/ (pul´sah-til) characterized by a rhythmic pulsation.
characterized by a rhythmic pulsation. . She had no vertigo at the time, but she noted that her hearing was worsening. She had earlier tried multiple doses of diazepam diazepam /di·az·e·pam/ (di-az´e-pam) a benzodiazepine used as an antianxiety agent, sedative, antipanic agent, antitremor agent, skeletal muscle relaxant, anticonvulsant, and in the management of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. and prednisone without success.
Findings on her ENT examination were normal, as were her vital signs. No bruits were noted on auscultation auscultation
Procedure for detecting certain defects or conditions by listening for normal and abnormal heart, breath, bowel, fetal, and other sounds in the body. The invention of the stethoscope in 1819 improved and expanded this practice, still very useful despite the . An audiogram au·di·o·gram
A graphic record of hearing ability for various sound frequencies.
A chart or graph of the results of a hearing test conducted with audiographic equipment. showed that her sensorineural hearing loss was now 120 dB higher than her usual baseline 40-dB right sensorineural loss, primarily because of the tinnitus. In light of her high degree of morbidity and a favorable psychological evaluation, the patient was placed on a electrocardiographic electrocardiographic
emanating from or pertaining to electrocardiography.
maintenance of a more or less continuous surveillance of a patient's cardiac status by means of electrocardiography. (ECG) monitor while the administration of IV lidocaine was contemplated. In the meantime Adv. 1. in the meantime - during the intervening time; "meanwhile I will not think about the problem"; "meantime he was attentive to his other interests"; "in the meantime the police were notified"
meantime, meanwhile , a placebo bolus of 50 ml of normal saline was injected over 30 minutes, but the patient did not experience any relief. The decision was then made to try lidocaine.
The patient was given 1.5 mg/kg of IV lidocaine in saline over 30 minutes. Within 10 minutes of the completion of therapy, she reported that her tinnitus had decreased to its baseline level, which she found very tolerable. She was observed in the hospital for 24 hours Adv. 1. for 24 hours - without stopping; "she worked around the clock"
around the clock, round the clock , and she did not experience any recurrence of her incapacitating tinnitus. Her audiometric au·di·om·e·ter
An instrument for measuring hearing activity for pure tones of normally audible frequencies. Also called sonometer.
au values returned to baseline.
During the next 2 years, she received three more injections of lidocaine under ECG monitoring in the emergency department for severe recurrences, and she achieved relief each time. Of interest, each of these injections was preceded by a placebo injection that failed to provide relief. At follow-up, her sensorineural hearing loss remained progressive, but her tinnitus was much better controlled.
Approximately 35% of adults in industrialized nations have experienced tinnitus during their lifetimes. (1) In 8%, the tinnitus has a significant effect on their well-being, primarily by interfering with their sleep. (1) In approximately 0.5 % of the United States population, tinnitus is so severe that it is incapacitating. (1)
Epidemiologic studies have shown that tinnitus is positively correlated with increasing age, noise exposure, and lower socioeconomic status. (1) One interesting finding is that tinnitus, including severe tinnitus, is more common among women than men. This finding is more noteworthy when one realizes that noise-induced tinnitus is much more common in men.
Because tinnitus can be related to a lesion anywhere in the auditory pathway from the external ear canal to the cortex, the work-up must be thorough. It should include a complete history, physical examination, neurologic examination, and audiometry, including an assessment of speech discrimination. Laboratory studies should include SMA-12 tests and measurements of fasting blood glucose, triglyceride level, FTA-ABS (for syphilis), complete blood count with differential, and thyroid function. Further work-up as indicated may include electronystagmography and auditory brainstem-evoked response testing. Computed tomography and/or magnetic resonance imaging magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), noninvasive diagnostic technique that uses nuclear magnetic resonance to produce cross-sectional images of organs and other internal body structures. can be obtained to rule out cerebellopontine angle tumors and brainstem lesions, especially in patients with unilateral tinnitus.
The treatment of tinnitus is as varied as its causes. The pathophysiology is poorly understood, although we do know that there is a similarity between some types of tinnitus and neurologic disorders that may be caused by spontaneous neuronal hyperactivity, such as facial neuralgia and epilepsy. (1,2) Medications that have been used for treatment with varying degrees of success include anticonvulsants Anticonvulsants
Drugs used to control seizures, such as in epilepsy.
Mentioned in: Antipsychotic Drugs, Osteoporosis (e.g., carbamazepine carbamazepine /car·ba·maz·e·pine/ (kahr?bah-maz´e-pen) an anticonvulsant and analgesic used in the treatment of pain associated with trigeminal neuralgia and in epilepsy manifested by certain types of seizures. ), benzodiazepines Benzodiazepines Definition
Benzodiazepines are medicines that help relieve nervousness, tension, and other symptoms by slowing the central nervous system.
Benzodiazepines are a type of antianxiety drugs. , various local anesthetics (especially oral lidocaine), and vitamins. Authors of several reports of IV lidocaine for the treatment of marked tinnitus have described varied degrees of success, but none discussed its use in patients with incapacitating tinnitus. (2-5)
Tinnitus maskers include household items such as radios, televisions, and electric fans. For patients with more severe tinnitus, hearing aids and hearing aid-like maskers have been used with mixed results.
Without considering specific surgical treatments for the relief of an underlying problem (e.g., stapedectomy Stapedectomy Definition
Stapedectomy is a surgical procedure in which the innermost bone (stapes) of the three bones (the stapes, the incus, and the malleus) of the middle ear is removed, and replaced with a small plastic tube of stainless-steel wire (a for otosclerosis otosclerosis: see deafness. or placement of an endolymphatic endolymphatic
pertaining to or emanating from the endolymph.
connects the saccule of the membranous labyrinth of the internal ear to the endolymphatic sac. subarachnoid subarachnoid /sub·arach·noid/ (sub?ah-rak´noid) between the arachnoid and the pia mater.
Referring to the space underneath the arachnoid mater. shunt for Meniere's disease), the surgical treatmerit of subjective tinnitus primarily involves labyrinthectomy or translabyrinthine section of the VIIIth cranial nerve. (6) However, even in cases when the cochlear nerve was sacrificed during tumor surgery, anecdotal reports suggest that only 50% of patients with preoperative tinnitus experience relief.
In our patient, IV lidocaine was given in a dose equivalent to the loading dose used in patients with cardiac arrhythmias--that is, 1.5 mg/kg injected over 30 minutes. Vital signs and cardiac rhythm were monitored during injection and for 30 minutes afterward. Our patient responded quickly, relaxed, and appeared to be less distressed.
Lidocaine may reduce abnormal spontaneous hyperactivity in the central nervous system, and it has been used to treat epileptic seizures. (2) Several reports, including one published as early as 1935 by Barany, (7) have indicated that lidocaine may have a beneficial effect on tinnitus. (2) Its major adverse effects are attributable to its actions on the central nervous system: drowsiness, paresthesia, convulsions Convulsions
Also termed seizures; a sudden violent contraction of a group of muscles.
Mentioned in: Heat Disorders , respiratory depression, and coma. Myocardial myocardial /myo·car·di·al/ (-kahr´de-al) pertaining to the muscular tissue of the heart.
pertaining to the muscular tissue of the heart (the myocardium). contractility may also be affected. Untoward effects are most common in patients who have hepatic insufficiency or congestive heart failure congestive heart failure, inability of the heart to expel sufficient blood to keep pace with the metabolic demands of the body. In the healthy individual the heart can tolerate large increases of workload for a considerable length of time. . (8) The risk that a single dose injected slowly during close monitoring will cause any problems is minimal, but in the extraordinary patient clinical discretion is advised.
Although tertiary or congenital syphilis can affect the inner ear and cause hearing loss, vertigo, and tinnitus, it rarely causes incapacitating tinnitus. (9-12) Treatment of otosyphilis requires high-dose IV penicillin and a steroid to reverse or control hearing loss and alleviate tinnitus and vertigo. Exacerbations of tinnitus require further treatment, and IV lidocaine may help in this limited group of patients. The use of psychological evaluation and counseling prior to any attempt at treatment is important to ascertain whether or not the tinnitus is real. Administration of a placebo can also help determine if the tinnitus is real.
To our knowledge, ours is the first report of a case in which a patient who presented to the emergency room with an incapacitating exacerbation of syphilitic syph·i·lit·ic
Of, relating to, or affected with syphilis.
A person with syphilis. inner ear tinnitus responded successfully to medical therapy. In most cases, otolaryngologists would be puzzled by a patient in as much distress as was our patient, and their immediate question would be, How do I treat this patient? We have shown that IV lidocaine can be easily and successfully administered in the emergency department or hospital setting to relieve such a patient's distress once all obvious causes have been ruled out.
Table. Factors implicated in the etiology of tinnitus Anemia Bell's palsy Circulation disorders Conductive hearing loss Eustachian tube dysfunction Hyperlipidemia Hypertension Idiopathic injury Labyrinthitis/neuronitis Medication reaction Meniere's diseases Metabolic disorder Otitis media Ostosclerosis Presbycusis Syphilis Thyroid diseases Trauma Tumor
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(8.) AMA (Automatic Message Accounting) The recording and reporting of telephone calls within a telephone system. It includes the calling and called parties and start and stop times of the call. Drug Evaluations. 4th ed. Chicago: American Medical Association American Medical Association (AMA), professional physicians' organization (founded 1847). Its goals are to protect the interests of American physicians, advance public health, and support the growth of medical science. , 1980:522.
(9.) Ahmad I, Lee WC. Otoncurosyphilis masquerading as neurofibromatosis type II. ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec 1999; 61:37-40.
(10.) Linstrom CJ, Gleich LL. Otosyphilis: Diagnostic and therapeutic update. J Otolaryngol 1993;22:401-8.
(11.) Amenta CA III. Dayal VS. Flaherty J, Weil RJ. Luetic luetic (looet´ik),
adj pertaining to or affected by syphilis. endolymphatic hydrops: Diagnosis and treatment. Am J Otol 1992;13: 516-24.
(12.) Steckelberg JM, McDonald TJ. Otologic involvement in late syphilis. Laryngoscope 1984;94:753-7.
From the Department of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery, Loyola University Medical Center Loyola University Medical Center, founded in 1969 by Loyola University as its teaching hospital, is a Level I Trauma Center located in Maywood, Illinois, west of Chicago. The hospital complex includes the Ronald McDonald Children's Hospital and the Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center. , Maywood, Ill.
Reprint requests: James A. Stankiewicz, MD, Department of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery, Loyola University Medical Center, 2160 S. First Ave., Maywood, IL 60153. Phone: (708) 216-9637; fax: (708) 216-4834; e-mail: email@example.com