Case: Hearing loss associated with overshunting

Timothy C. Hain, MD • Page last modified: March 7, 2021

see also: csf leaks Hearing Page

A woman was given a shunt for normal pressure hydrocephalus. Subsequent to this, her hearing dropped precipitiously, and even more so after her neurosurgeon adjusted the valve on her shunt thinking it might improve her gait. After her shunt was turned off, her hearing recovered.

Improvement in hearing after shunt adjustment
On the left, hearing with shunt opened up. On the right, hearing with shunt turned off.


This patient's hearing fluctuated according to the functioning of her shunt. We presume that her shunt was "overdraining", causing her hearing to decline. This is similar to the observation of Stoeckli who noted persistent bilateral LTSNHL after shunt placement (1999). A similar case was reported by Miyazaki et al (1997). There is also a small literature about hearing loss associated with spontaneous intracranial hypotension (see references).

These patients have hearing profiles similar to bilateral Meniere's.