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A Balance Test for Chronic Perilymph Fistula

DOI: 10.1155/2012/163691

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Perilymph fistula is defined as a leak of perilymph at the oval or round window. It excludes other conditions with “fistula” tests due to a dehiscent semicircular canal from cholesteotoma and the superior canal dehiscence syndrome. First recognized as a complication of stapedectomy, it then became apparent that head trauma and barotraumatic trauma from flying or diving could be a cause. Descriptions of “spontanenous” perilymph fistulas with no trauma history followed. It is likely that most perilymph fistula patients have a congential potential weakness of the otic capsule at the round or oval window. The vestibular symptoms have been assumed to be due to endolymphatic hydrops, but there is poor evidence. Their unilateral disequilibrium, nausea, and subtle cognitive problems suggest they are due to otolith disfunction and that these patients have a specific balance abnormality, unlike subjects with unilateral vestibular hypofuction. In this series of twenty patients with a confirmed fistula a logical simplification of Singleton's “eyes-closed turning” test predicted a PLF in twelve with a trauma history. In four no cause was found. In three a prior traumatic event was later recalled, but one patient had concealed it.


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