Saturday, October 29, 2011

Surgical approaches to tinnitus treatment: A review and novel approaches

Teo Soleymani, David Pieton, Patrick Pezeshkian, Patrick Miller, Alessandra A Gorgulho, Nader Pouratian, Antonio A.F. De Salles

Surgical Neurology International 2011 2(1):154-154

Background: Tinnitus, a profoundly widespread auditory disorder, is characterized by the perception of sound in the absence of external stimulation. The aim of this work is to review the various surgical treatment options for tinnitus, targeting the various disruption sites along the auditory pathway, as well as to indicate novel neuromodulatory techniques as a mode of tinnitus control. Methods: A comprehensive analysis was conducted on published clinical and basic neuroscience research examining the pathophysiology and treatment options of tinnitus. Results: Stereotactic radiosurgery methods and microvascular decompressions are indicated for tinnitus caused by underlying pathologies such as vestibular schwannomas or neurovascular conflicts of the vestibulocochlear nerve at the level of the brainstem. However, subsequent hearing loss and secondary tinnitus may occur. In patients with subjective tinnitus and concomitant sensorineural hearing loss, cochlear implantation is indicated. Surgical ablation of the cochlea, vestibulocochlear nerve, or dorsal cochlear nucleus, though previously suggested in earlier literature as viable treatment options for tinnitus, has been shown to be ineffective and contraindicated. Recently, emerging research has shown the neuromodulatory capacity of the somatosensory system at the level of the trigeminal nerve on the auditory pathway through its inputs at various nuclei in the central auditory pathway. Conclusion: Tinnitus remains to be a difficult disorder to treat despite the many surgical interventions aimed at eliminating the aberrant neuronal activity in the auditory system. A promising novel neuromodulatory approach using the trigeminal system to control such a bothersome and difficult-to-treat disorder deserves further investigation and controlled clinical trials.