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June 20, 2019

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy vs Medical Therapy for Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Author Affiliations
  • 1Central Military Hospital Utrecht, Ministry of Defense, Utrecht, the Netherlands
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2019;145(8):699-700. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2019.0924

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) occurs within 72 hours and is defined as hearing loss of at least 30 dB at 3 or more consecutive frequencies. Although steroids might be beneficial, an additional therapy is still warranted. Recently, several systematic reviews that assessed overlapping literature about the association of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) with enhancing recovery in patients with SSNHL in comparative studies have been published.1-3 The conclusion of those systematic reviews was that HBO may provide additional value to the conventional medical treatment methods with corticosteroids, especially in cases of severe hearing loss. Medical treatment was defined as standard therapy with corticosteroids (systemic and/or intratympanic) and, if applicable, combined with other drugs (eg, antiviral or vasodilator therapy). That result was as expected because those patients in general have poor recovery in the clinical setting and a larger absolute gain can be obtained. However, the methodological quality of the included studies1-3 was determined to be poor, and the risk of bias high. Furthermore, the outcome measures differed largely between studies, leading to difficulties in comparing and pooling study results. Therefore, only weak recommendations could be made.

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