- Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss Classification and external resources
Anatomy of the human ear.
ICD-10 H90.0-H90.2 ICD-9 389.0 DiseasesDB 3043 MeSH D006314
Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem conducting sound waves anywhere along the route through the outer ear, tympanic membrane (eardrum), or middle ear (ossicles). This type of hearing loss may occur in conjunction with sensorineural hearing loss or alone.
The Weber test, in which a tuning fork is touched to the midline of the forehead, localizes to the affected ear in people with this condition. The Rinne test, which tests air conduction vs. bone conduction is negative (abnormal result).
Causes of conductive hearing loss
- Cerumen (earwax)
- Otitis externa (ear infection)
- Foreign body in the external auditory canal (not always)
- Tumour of the ear canal
- Congenital atresia
- Tympanic membrane perforation
- Membrane tension by different pressures in the external and middle ear. This can temporarily occur, for example, by the environmental pressure changes as when shifting altitude, or inside a train going into a tunnel. It is managed by any of various methods of ear clearing maneuvers to equalize the pressures.
Fluid accumulation is the most common cause of conductive hearing loss in the middle ear, especially in children. Major causes are ear infections or conditions that block the eustachian tube, such as allergies or tumors. Blocking of the eustachian tube leads to increased pressure in the middle ear relative to the external ear, and this causes decreased motion of both the ossicles and the tympanic membrane.
Severe Otosclerosis, form of mechanical conductive hearing loss most commonly found in people who have been subjected to intense noise. Occurs when there is an obstruction in either the oval window and/or the round window. This type of hearing loss can usually be repaired by surgical opening of the blockage.
Differentiating conductive and sensorineuronal hearing loss
When a Weber test is carried out, sound localizes to the ear affected by the conductive loss. A Rinne test, in which air conduction is normally greater than bone conduction, is usually negative (abnormal – note unusual terminology here compared with other medical tests), and shows greater bone conduction than air conduction.
Table 1. A table comparing sensorineural hearing loss to conductive
Criteria Sensorineural hearing loss Conductive hearing loss Anatomical Site Inner ear, cranial nerve VIII, or central processing centers Middle ear (ossicular chain), tympanic membrane, or inner ear Weber Test Sound localizes to normal ear Sound localizes to affected ear (ear with conductive loss) Rinne Test Positive Rinne; Air conduction > Bone conduction (both air and bone conduction are decreased equally, but the difference between them is unchanged). Negative Rinne; Bone Conduction > Air Conduction (Bone/Air Gap)
Diseases of the ear and mastoid process (H60–H99, 380–389) Outer ear Middle ear and mastoid Inner ear and
central pathwaysCommon pathwayExcessive responseOtherAcquired auditory processing disorder · Spatial hearing loss
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