Otoneurology

What is otoneurology?

Otoneurology or neuro-otology, as its names suggest, combine aspects of otology (the field of medicine studying the ear and its conditions) and neurology (which deals with the brain and nervous system). Neuro-otology is a sub-specialty in the field of ear, nose and throat (ENT) dealing with conditions of the ear and how they’re related to the central nervous system, as well as how conditions of the inner ear can result in a balance disorder. This field deals with all the parts of the ear, all the central and peripheral nerves connected to it and about how this overall structure is connected to the other structures in the body.

What diseases are treated by otoneurology?

The conditions and disorders treated by neuro-otology are:

  • Ear and temporal bone infections, such as tinnitus, several types of otitis, meningitis, toxic, bacterial and syphilitic labyrinthitis, extradural or brain abscess and Ramsay-Hunt syndrome (RHS)
  • Vascular conditions: labyrinthine infarction, labyrinthine ischemia, labyrinthine haemorrhage and Wallenberg syndrome
  • Inner ear autoimmune conditions
  • Otosclerosis
  • Traumas: labyrinthine concussion, trauma-induced hearing loss
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Lower jaw and cranial disorders
  • Vestibular function (balance) rehabilitation
  • Severe cases of vertigo, such as paroxysmal positional vertigo or migraine-related vertigo
  • Ménière's disease
  • Tumours of the temporal bone, of the posterior cranial fossa, of the middle ear and meningioma
  • Certain skull base conditions

During an examination, the doctor will look at your posture and how you walk. Afterwards your inner ear and cranial nerves function will be checked with several different tests and stimuli. Some of the techniques used in an examination may be:

  • Romberg’s test
  • Finger-nose coordination test
  • Frenzel goggles
  • Stimuli with hot and cold water

When do I need to see a neuro-otologist?

You may need to consult a neuro-otologist if you are experiencing symptoms that indicate you might have an otoneurological problem, such as hearing loss, facial paralysis, and balance problems.

A neuro-otologist can perform the surgery you may need if the tests and examinations identified a neuro-otological condition.

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