'Is tinnitus accompanied by hemifacial spasm in normal-hearing patients also a type of hyperactive neurovascular compression syndrome? A magnetoencephalography study

Won Seok Chang, Bong Soo Kim, Ji Eun Lee, Hyun Ho Jung, Kiwoong Kim, Hyuk Chan Kwon, Yong Ho Lee, Jin Woo Chang

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Background: Traditionally, tinnitus accompanied by hemifacial spasm has been considered a type of hyperactive neurovascular compression syndrome that is similar to hemifacial spasm alone because of the anatomically close relationship between the facial nerve and cochlear nerve as well as the hyperactive clinical nature.Methods: Participants were 29 subjects who presented with hemifacial spasm and neuroradiological evidence of vascular compression of the cranial (facial/cochlear) nerve. We used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to estimate the activity of the cochlear nerve in patients with and without tinnitus on the ipsilateral side. We compared the difference in the latency and the ratio of the equivalent current dipole (ECD) strength between the ipsilateral and contralateral sides of the spasm and tinnitus.Results: Cochlear nerve activity in patients with tinnitus was increased with a shorter latency (p = 0.016) and stronger ECD strength (p = 0.028) compared with patients without tinnitus.Conclusion: The MEG results from normal-hearing patients who had tinnitus accompanied by hemifacial spasm suggest that the hyperactivity of the auditory central nervous system may be a crucial pathophysiological factor in the generation of tinnitus in these patients. The neurovascular compression that causes sensory input from the pathologic facial nerve activity may contribute to this hyperactivity of the central auditory nervous system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number42
JournalBMC neurology
Publication statusPublished - 2013 May 8


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology

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