Brain catheterization treats rare tinnitus

Operation, performed in Beersheba, was first of its kind in Israel

SURGEONS OPERATE at Soroka-University Medical Center in Beersheba. (photo credit: Courtesy)
SURGEONS OPERATE at Soroka-University Medical Center in Beersheba.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For the first time in Israel, a patient suffering from a rare type of severe tinnitus (ringing in the ears) was treated with brain catheterization.
The procedure was performed at Beersheba’s Soroka- University Medical Center, where doctors discovered the patient had an aneurysm of veins in the brain, causing blood flow to press on air cells in the ear. Most cases of tinnitus are caused by damage to hair cells in the inner ear.
Dr. Anat Horev, a brain catheterization specialist at the hospital, said the 20-something woman, who was otherwise healthy, suffered from pulsatile tinnitus for a year and a half.
Horev said this rare type of tinnitus often goes undiagnosed and accounts for only 10% to 20% of all cases. Catheterization is used to treat only the pulsatile type of tinnitus.
The woman suffered from her condition around the clock, particularly when her surroundings were quiet or when she tried to fall asleep. Her ability to concentrate and function were impaired, and she sought treatment with doctors in several disciplines. But the cause of her symptoms remained a mystery.
It was only after she underwent an MRI scan, Horev said, that they suspected she might be suffering from an aneurysm of veins in the brain. Usually, when there is an aneurysm – a blood-filled dilation of a blood vessel caused by a weakening of the vessel’s walls – it involves the arteries and not the veins.
The woman was first treated with catheterization of the veins, which involved introducing a tiny inflated balloon into the veins to block the aneurysm. When she reported that the ringing in her ears had stopped, Horev knew the aneurysm was in her vein and had been corrected. Horev then carried out another procedure to insert several supportive stents in the vein to prevent collapse.