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Superior Semicircular Canal Dehiscence Syndrome

What is superior semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome?
Superior semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome (or SSCDS) is a condition where the normal bony covering of the superior semicircular canal (one of the three balance canals that respond to angular acceleration) is missing.

What type of symptoms do patients with SSCDS have?
Many, but not all, patients with SSCDS have dizziness. This dizziness may be brought on by loud noises, such as the clanging of dishes together, or by pressure changes, such as sneezing, coughing, or straining. Some patients report hearing their heartbeat in the affected ear and often complain of ear fullness. Many patients describe that their voice sounds louder in one particular ear as well. Other less common symptoms include hearing one’s own eye movements and hearing one’s own footsteps on certain surfaces (watch this video: Inside Todd’s Head).

What causes SSCDS?
Currently the exact cause of SSCDS is not known. It is likely that some individuals are predisposed to the thinning of bone in certain areas of the skull base, leading to problems such as SSCDS. Additionally, head trauma may play a role in certain cases of SSCDS. Not all individuals with a dehiscence of the superior semicircular canal (as might be seen on a special CAT scan and verified by certain tests) actually have symptoms.

How is SSCDS treated?
SSCDS treatment must be individualized to each particular patient. While there is no specific medical therapy for SSCDS, various surgical management options are available.

Disclaimer:
The information and reference materials included on this website are intended solely for the general information and education purposes of the reader. They are not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice or to diagnose health problems. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to discuss the information presented here.

Vertigo in the Headlines

File:Stephen Colbert at Montclair Film 2017 (1).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Late night talk show host Stephen Colbert announced recently that he has been diagnosed with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). He reported that when he would stand up from a seated position, everything began to spin and subsequently he would fall or sit down. This particular type of vertigo is characterized by the sensation of either yourself or the world around you spinning, and lasting for a few seconds to a few minutes. It is typically brought on by head movements such as rising from a seated position, moving you head in a certain direction, or rolling over in bed.

Symptoms associated with BPPV are imbalance, nausea/vomiting, and visual changes such as objects seeming to jump or moving side to side. Possible causes can include head injury, ear surgery, migraine headaches, transient ischemic attacks or stroke, a growth inside the ear, or a virus within the ear.

BPPV can usually be corrected with special positioning treatments done in the office and exercises at home. However, it is important not to assume that all vertigo is BPPV and to make sure any causes aside from the inner ear are ruled out first. Contact your primary care physician if you begin to experience dizziness. Once cleared, they will then refer you to a hearing and balance specialist to help determine the cause of vertigo and develop the next steps to help correct it.