The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the incidence and discuss the pathogenesis of high-frequency hearing loss (HFHL) after microvascular decompression (MVD) for hemifacial spasm (HFS).
Preoperative and postoperative audiogram data and brainstem auditory evoked potentials (BAEPs) from 94 patients who underwent MVD for HFS were analyzed. Pure tone audiometry at 0.25–2 kHz, 4 kHz, and 8 kHz was calculated for all individuals pre- and postoperatively ipsilateral and contralaterally. Intraoperative neurophysiological data were reviewed independently. An HFHL was defined as a change in pure tone audiometry of more than 10 dB at frequencies of 4 and 8 kHz.
The incidence of HFHL was 50.00% and 25.53% ipsilateral and contralateral to the side of surgery, respectively. The incidence of HFHL adjusted for conductive and nonserviceable hearing loss was 26.6% ipsilaterally. The incidence of HFHL at 4 and 8 kHz on the ipsilateral side was 37.23% and 45.74%, respectively, and it was 10.64% and 25.53%, respectively, on the contralateral side. Maximal change in interpeak latency Waves I–V compared with baseline was the only variable significantly different between groups (p < 0.05). Sex, age, and side did not increase the risk of HFHL. Stepwise logistic regression analysis did not find any changes in intraoperative BAEPs to increase the risk of HFHL.
High-frequency hearing loss occurs in a significant number of patients following MVD surgery for HFS. Drill-induced noise and transient loss of CSF during surgery may impair hearing in the high-frequency ranges on both the ipsilateral and contralateral sides, with the ipsilateral side being more affected. Changes in intraoperative BAEPs during MVD for HFS were not useful in predicting HFHL. Follow-up studies and repeat audiological examinations may be helpful in evaluating the time course and prognosis of HFHL. Prospective studies focusing on decreasing intraoperative noise exposure, as well as auditory shielding devices, will establish causation and allow the team to intervene appropriately to decrease the risk of HFHL.