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Original Article
Jan 2012

A Clinical and Histopathologic Study of Jugular Bulb Abnormalities

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Otolaryngology (Drs Friedmann and Lalwani), Radiology (Drs Eubig and Pramanik), Pediatrics (Dr Lalwani), and Physiology and Neuroscience (Dr Lalwani), New York University School of Medicine, New York; and Department of Otology and Laryngology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School, Boston (Mr Winata and Dr Merchant).

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012;138(1):66-71. doi:10.1001/archoto.2011.231

Objective To further define the spectrum of clinical presentation and explore the histologic sequelae of jugular bulb abnormalities (JBAs).

Design Retrospective review.

Setting Academic medical center.

Patients Thirty patients with radiologic evidence of inner ear dehiscence by JBA.

Main Outcome Measure Thirty patients with radiologic inner ear dehiscence by JBA and 1579 temporal bone specimens were evaluated for consequences from JBA.

Results We found that JBA-associated inner ear dehiscence could be identified on computed tomography of the temporal bone but not on magnetic resonance imaging scan. Jugular bulb abnormalities eroded the vestibular aqueduct most often (in 25 patients), followed by the facial nerve (5 patients) and the posterior semicircular canal (4 patients). Half of the patients (15) were asymptomatic. Results from vestibular evoked myogenic potential (VEMP) tests were positive in 8 of 12 patients with inner ear dehiscence. Histologically, only 2 of 41 temporal bones with dehiscence of the vestibular aqueduct demonstrated endolymphatic hydrops.

Conclusions Jugular bulb abnormalities can erode into the vestibular aqueduct, facial nerve, and the posterior semicircular canal. While symptoms may include pulsatile tinnitus, vertigo, or conductive hearing loss, in contrast to earlier reports, half of the patients were asymptomatic. Dehiscence of vestibular aqueduct rarely leads to clinical or histologic hydrops. The VEMP testing was useful in confirming the presence of inner ear dehiscence due to JBAs. Because the natural history of JBAs is unknown, these patients should be followed closely to evaluate for progression of the JBA or development of symptoms.