To determine if physiologically based MRI sequences can be used to detect endolymphatic sac tumor (ELST)–associated hydrops, the authors performed contrast-enhanced delayed FLAIR imaging in consecutive ELST patients with clinical findings consistent with hydrops.
Consecutive patients with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease and clinical findings of endolymphatic hydrops and ELSTs underwent contrast-enhanced delayed FLAIR MRI. Clinical, audiological, operative, and imaging findings were analyzed.
Three patients (2 male, 1 female) with 4 ELSTs (1 patient had bilateral ELSTs) were identified who had clinical findings consistent with endolymphatic hydrops. Computed tomography and MRI evidence of an ELST was found in all patients. Their mean age at initial evaluation was 39.7 years (range 28–51 years). All patients demonstrated progressive sensorineural hearing loss that was associated with episodic vertigo and tinnitus. Contrast-enhanced delayed FLAIR MRI clearly demonstrated dilation of the membranous labyrinth consistent with hydrops in the affected ears but not the unaffected ears. Two patients underwent resection of the associated ELST that resulted in stabilization of progressive hearing loss, as well as amelioration of tinnitus and vertigo.
Contrast-enhanced delayed FLAIR MRI can be used to detect ELST-associated hydrops. Noninvasive MRI detection of hydrops can permit earlier detection of ELSTs in patients with VHL disease and provides direct insight into a mechanism that underlies ELST-associated audiovestibular morbidity.