Development and Diagnosis of Otosclerosis
Gul Moonis, MD, has practiced radiology for seventeen years. Now a member of the radiology department at Columbia University Medical Center, Dr. Gul Moonis draws on in-depth experience in the imaging of patients with otosclerosis.
Otosclerosis is a bone disorder of the inner and middle ear. In a healthy ear, these bones are responsible for receiving vibrations caused when sound waves hit the tympanic membrane in the ear canal. These vibrations cause the middle ear bones to move, which in turn causes movement of the inner ear fluid and stimulation of the cells that transmit to the auditory nerve.
With otosclerosis, approximately 10 percent of Caucasian adults, and in a lesser population of individuals of African, South American, and Japanese descent, bones inside the ear fuse and lose their ability to move. This interferes with the progress of vibrations through the ear and leads to progressive hearing loss.
Diagnosis of the condition typically begins with a hearing test, which may identify loss of the ability to perceive lower tones. Patients may also report ringing in the ears or balance issues, both of which may indicate the likelihood of otosclerosis. A computed topography (CT) scan may be able to confirm bone abnormalities and is often the most definitive test for early-stage disease, before more serious symptoms develop.
Some patients with otosclerosis may not require any treatment. Those with noticeable conductive hearing loss can often benefit from hearing aids, though surgery may be available in certain cases.