Clinical vignette: A 51-year-old man with right-sided sudden hearing loss presents to the otology clinic. He has a 4-year history of episodic vertigo of several hours’ duration and fluctuating, progressive sensorineural hearing loss in his left ear. The vertigo attacks have not occurred for the last 18 months, and the left ear hearing is consistently poor. The patient’s right ear hearing has dropped in the last 36 hours. MRI imaging of brain and temporal bone are normal. A 2-week “burst and taper” of oral prednisone is administered with no effect. Over the next 3 months, serial audiograms show rapidly progressive loss of threshold and word recognition scores on the right side. A trial of high-dose prednisone (60 mg/d for 30 days) results in full recovery of the right ear hearing and substantial improvement in the left ear. As the prednisone dose is slowly tapered over several months, the hearing drops again.
Steven D. Rauch