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Pulsatile Tinnitus ? What is it ?

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

As an experienced ENT surgeon, I have seen many patients with pulsatile tinnitus, a condition where patients hear a rhythmic sound in their ear that corresponds to their heartbeat. Pulsatile tinnitus can be a distressing symptom that significantly affects a patient's quality of life. In this blog article, I will discuss the causes of pulsatile tinnitus and the various treatment options available.

Pulsatile tinnitus can be caused by a variety of underlying conditions, including vascular abnormalities, ear disorders, and other medical conditions. One common cause is a vascular abnormality, such as an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) or a dural arteriovenous fistula (DAVF). These conditions can cause abnormal blood flow in the vessels surrounding the ear, leading to the pulsatile sound.

Other causes of pulsatile tinnitus include ear disorders such as atherosclerosis, middle ear effusions, and Meniere's disease. Medical conditions such as hypertension, thyroid disorders, and anemia can also cause pulsatile tinnitus.

When a patient presents with pulsatile tinnitus, I typically start with a thorough history and physical examination, followed by imaging studies such as a CT or MRI scan to identify the underlying cause. Treatment options depend on the underlying cause of the pulsatile tinnitus.

For vascular abnormalities, treatment may include embolization or surgical intervention. In cases where the pulsatile tinnitus is caused by an ear disorder, treatment may involve medications or surgery to alleviate the underlying condition. If the pulsatile tinnitus is caused by a medical condition, such as hypertension, treating the underlying condition can often resolve the pulsatile tinnitus.

In summary, pulsatile tinnitus can be caused by a variety of underlying conditions and can significantly affect a patient's quality of life. As an ENT surgeon, I take a comprehensive approach to diagnosing and treating pulsatile tinnitus, and work closely with my patients to determine the best course of treatment for their individual needs.

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