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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

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

Won Seok Chang1, Bong Soo Kim1, Ji Eun Lee1, Hyun Ho Jung1, Kiwoong Kim2, Hyuk Chan Kwon2, Yong Ho Lee2 and Jin Woo Chang13*

  • * Corresponding author: Jin Woo Chang jchang@yuhs.ac

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurosurgery, Brain Research Institute, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

2 Korea Research Institute of Standard and Science (KRISS), Daejeon, Korea

3 Department of Neurosurgery, Brain Research Institute, Yonsei University College of Medicine, 134 Shinchon-Dong, Seodaemoon-Gu, Seoul, 120-752, Korea

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BMC Neurology 2013, 13:42  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-13-42

Published: 8 May 2013

Abstract

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 (pā€‰=ā€‰0.016) and stronger ECD strength (pā€‰=ā€‰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.

Keywords:
Hemifacial spasm; Magnetoencephalography; Pathophysiology; Tinnitus