Anterior cervical osteophytes and sympathetic hyperactivity in patients with tinnitus: Size matters

Henk M. Koning, Mark V. Koning, Nick J. Koning, Bas C. ter Meulen

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Context: Pathological changes secondary to degeneration of the cervical intervertebral disc may cause irritation of sympathetic nerve fibers, leading to sympathetic symptoms and tinnitus. Objectives: The aim of this study was to relate the effect of percutaneous radiofrequency treatment of superior cervical sympathetic ganglion in patients with tinnitus to cervical pathology. Method: A retrospective study of 74 consecutive patients who underwent treatment of the superior cervical sympathetic ganglion for tinnitus that persisted for 1 month or longer from October 2016 to January 2018. The work-up of a patient with tinnitus consisted of a standardized clinical history, a bilateral audiogram and a cervical spine radiograph. Results: All patients had a test blockade of superior cervical sympathetic ganglion first, and 54% of these patients (n=40) responded with a reduction of their tinnitus. These patients underwent a radiofrequency lesion and 53% (n=21) responded with a reduction of their tinnitus at 7 weeks following treatment. The size of anterior osteophyte at the fifth cervical vertebrae was related to a positive response at 7 weeks following this treatment. Patients with tinnitus and an anterior osteophyte at vertebrae C5 more than 17% of the width of those vertebrae had a success rate of 52% following treatment of the superior cervical sympathetic ganglion, compared to 13%, when the anterior osteophyte at C5 was 17% or less. Conclusions: The size of anterior cervical osteophytes is associated with a higher success rate of radiofrequency lesions of the superior sympathetic ganglion for tinnitus. The current results imply a role for cervical sympathetic nervous system irritation in the development of tinnitus in a subgroup of patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-102
JournalThe international tinnitus journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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