Asymmetric sudden sensorineural hearing loss: Is all this testing necessary?

Selena E. Heman-Ackah, Noel Jabbour, Tina C Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: A number of factors have been identified that contribute to the presentation of asymmetric sudden sensorineural hearing loss (ASSNHL). Routinely, patients presenting with ASSNHL undergo a battery of serologic testing and imaging in an attempt to determine a cause. The objective of this study was to assess the utility of this diagnostic evaluation in elucidating a cause of an ASSNHL and to assess the average cost associated with this battery of testing. Study Design: Retrospective chart review. Setting: Tertiary care facility. Subjects and Methods: Charts from patients presenting to the otolaryngology clinic of a tertiary care facility between December 1, 2002, and November 30, 2007, with ASSNHL confirmed by audiometric evaluation were reviewed. Diagnostic tests included in the workup of ASSNHL and test results were recorded. The percentage of positive tests was determined and compared to national data. Cost analysis of the diagnostic battery was performed. Results: The battery of testing performed for sudden sensorineural hearing loss included antineutrophil antibody, cholesterol, creatinine, anti-DNA antibody, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, blood glucose, Lyme titer, rheumatoid factor, rapid plasmin reagent, triiodothyronine, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and magnetic resonance imaging with gadolinium. The average cost associated with the full diagnostic evaluation is greater than $2000. The diagnostic impact of these tests is extremely low. Conclusions: The utility of the comprehensive ASSNHL evaluation should be reconsidered. The choice of diagnostic evaluation should be directed by patient risk factors and exposures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-490
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2010


  • Asymmetric
  • Diagnosis
  • Evaluation
  • Hearing loss
  • Sudden sensorineural hearing loss


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