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Otology/Neurotology

Our otology/neurotology subspecialty program provides diagnosis and treatment of conditions relating to the lateral skull base and ear, such as acoustic neuromas and cochlear implantation in adults and children.

Symptoms of an otology/neurotology related issue include:

  • Facial weakness
  • Hearing loss that may be worse in one ear
  • Ringing in one or both ears
  • Unsteadiness due to an inner ear issue

Otology and Neurotology Diagnosis

During diagnosis, our fellowship-trained otolaryngology and audiology subspecialists work in close collaboration, which allows patients to receive a hearing evaluation as well as a physical exam, including an ear microscopy, in the same appointment and in the same building. If necessary, a CT scan or MRI may also be ordered to assist in diagnosis of conditions, such as a lateral skull base tumor. These tumors are often benign, with an acoustic neuroma (growth or tumor on the auditory nerve of the inner ear) being the most common.

Other otology/neurotology conditions include:

  • Atresia of the ear canal with conductive hearing loss
  • Chronic suppurative otitis media
  • Cholesteatoma
  • Glomus jugulare tumors
  • Otosclerosis - when stapes bone becomes fixed, no longer vibrates
  • Superior canal dehiscence syndrome
  • Tympanic membrane perforation
  • Tinnitus

Patients suffering from conductive hearing loss (inability of all sound to reach the inner ear) can receive treatment through either medical or surgical options, depending on the condition and patient preference.

Otology and Neurotology Treatment Options

Because treatment of lateral skull base lesions, such as acoustic neuromas, is determined by a multidisciplinary team, NorthShore offers patients an unbiased approach to care. This team includes Otolaryngology, Neurosurgery and Radiation Oncology, among other disciplines.  Each patient is presented with a care plan that is tailored to his or her own unique situation, taking mutliple factors, such as patient preference, age, degree of hearing loss and other medical conditions, into account.

Depending on your condition, treatment options may include medical or surgical intervention. Hearing aids, which can be fitted and tested by an audiologist, are often available to improve hearing. In the case of otosclerosis, where the stapes bone in the ear becomes fixed and no longer vibrates, an otologist is also able to perform outpatient surgery to replace the bone with a small titanium implant, restoring hearing completely.

For adults and patients with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears, cochlear implants are available to restore hearing, along with speech therapy for children whose speech development may have been impacted. Patients as young as one year of age are able to receive implants, which can greatly improve speech development as well as hearing when implemented early on. Before determining if a patient is a candidate for a cochlear implant, an evaluation and consultation will be performed by a specialist.

For More Information

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 847.504.3300.