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February 1978

Detection of Syphilitic Hearing Loss

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Otolaryngology (Drs Zoller, Wilson, and Nadol), Harvard Medical School, the Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary (Drs Zoller, Wilson, and Nadol), and the Department of Public Health (Dr Girard), Massachusetts State Serology Laboratory, Boston.

Arch Otolaryngol. 1978;104(2):63-65. doi:10.1001/archotol.1978.00790020005001

• Syphilis can cause sensorineural hearing loss that is potentially treatable. To determine the incidence of positive serological findings in patients with sensorineural hearing loss, the rapid plasma reagin card test (RPRCT) and the FTA-ABS test were performed in a study group composed of patients with sensorineural hearing loss of obscure origin. Of the 306 patients with sensorineural hearing loss, 20 (6.5%) demonstrated a positive FTA-ABS as compared with two of 100 (2%) of the control group. Considerable variation was found in the rate of the false-negative and the biological false-positive RPRCT as performed by our hospital and state laboratories when compared with the results of the FTA-ABS test.

Syphilis should be considered in any patient with sensorineural hearing loss of obscure origin, despite a negative history for syphilis. The FTA-ABS is the preferred test to exclude hearing loss of syphilitic origin.

(Arch Otolaryngol 104:63-65, 1978)

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