A person may develop hearing loss following head trauma. The hearing loss may be transient or permanent and it may be conductive or sensorineural. The type of hearing loss and its cause are important for surgical and rehabilitation planning.


Causes of transient conductive hearing loss following head trauma:

(1) blood in the ear

(2) transient perforation of the tympanic membrane


Causes of persistent conductive hearing loss after head trauma:

(1) persistent perforation of the tympanic membrane

(2) post-traumatic cholesteatoma

(3) ossicular discontinuity


Causes of sensorineural hearing loss after head trauma:

(1) fracture of the labyrinth

(2) concussion of the labyrinth

(3) perilymphatic fistula

(4) neural and/or brainstem injury


Sensorineural hearing loss is common after a temporal fracture involving the otic capsule. The presence of sensorineural hearing loss should prompt a high resolution CT scan of the temporal bone.


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