Combined Arterial and Venous Phase Computed Tomographic Imaging of the Skull Base in Pulsatile Tinnitus.
Objective: To describe the demographic, clinical, and radiologic findings in a consecutive series of patients presenting with a chief complaint of pulsatile tinnitus (PT). Study
Design: Retrospective review of 157 patients undergoing a combined arterial/venous phase computed tomographic (CT) imaging study. Setting: Tertiary referral center. Patients: Adult patients referred to neurotology faculty for evaluation of PT between 2016 and 2020. Interventions: Triple phase high-resolution arteriography/venography/temporal bone CT. Main outcome measures: Prevalence of osseous, venous, and/or arterial pathology, clinicodemographic characteristics.
Results: One hundred fifty-seven adults (mean age, 52 years; 79.6% female) were evaluated. A history of migraine headaches was common (19.7%). The average body mass index was 30.0 (standard deviation, 6.8), and 17.2% of subjects had a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea. Idiopathic intracranial hypertension was diagnosed by elevated opening pressure on lumbar puncture in 13.4%. Comorbid depression and anxiety were common (25.5% and 26.1%, respectively). Overall, abnormalities were found in 79.0% of scans, with bilateral transverse sinus stenosis (TSS) seen in 38.9% and unilateral TSS found in 20.4%. Fifteen subjects (9.6%) had evidence of osseous etiologies, including superior canal dehiscence or thinning in 8.9% and sigmoid sinus dehiscence in one subject. There were 3 dural arteriovenous fistulae identified. Unilateral PT was ipsilateral to the side of TSS in 84.4% of subjects with unilateral TSS.
Conclusion: In a large consecutive series of patients with PT referred for CT venography/arteriography, transverse sinus stenosis was the most common finding at 59%. Venous etiologies for PT should be suspected when patients are referred to neurotologists for evaluation.