Study shows surgery can help reduce dizziness in patients with Ménière’s disease

WVU doctor analyzes results of more than 50 procedures

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A surgical procedure to drain fluid from the inner ear appears to reduce vertigo in three-fourths of patients with Ménière’s disease, a condition characterized by vertigo, hearing loss and ringing in the ears, according to a West Virginia University surgeon’s study published in the November issue of Archives of Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Stephen Wetmore, M.D., chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology in the WVU School of Medicine, studied results of endolymphatic sac surgery for patients with Ménière’s disease who did not respond to more conservative therapies such as low-sodium diets or diuretic medications. The surgery involves inserting a shunt into the endolymphatic sac to drain excess inner ear fluid into the mastoid air cell system to relieve patients of major spells of vertigo.

Between 1989 and 2006, 51 patients underwent this surgery for the first time and 16 underwent revision surgery for recurring disease. After 24 months, the surgery improved major spells of vertigo in 77 percent of patients undergoing the procedure for the first time and 65 percent of patients undergoing revision surgery.

For those having revision surgery, results appeared better in patients who developed recurrent symptoms more than two years after than procedure than among those who failed treatment earlier.

“Endolymphatic sac surgery seems to be beneficial in regard to decreasing or eliminating major dizzy spells in those patients who continue to have frequent and severe dizzy spells despite maximal medical therapy,” Dr. Wetmore concludes. “For those patients who initially do well after sac surgery but who experience recurrence of symptoms later, revision surgery is often beneficial. The longer the interval between primary endolymphatic sac surgery and the revision procedure, the more likely it is that the patient will obtain a beneficial response from the revision surgery.”

For information on the Department of Otolaryngology see http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/som/otolaryngology/.



For more information:
Andrea Brunais, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
ab: 11-13-08

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