Prevalence, surgical management, and audiologic impact of sigmoid sinus dehiscence causing pulsatile tinnitus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the prevalence, surgical management, and audiologic impact of pulsatile tinnitus caused by sigmoid sinus dehiscence. Study Design and Setting: Retrospective chart review at a tertiary care hospital. Patients: Adults with unilateral pulsatile tinnitus attributable to sigmoid sinus dehiscence who underwent resurfacing between January 2010 and January 2020. Interventions: Transmastoid sigmoid resurfacing. Main Outcome Measures: Resolution of pulsatile tinnitus; audiologic outcomes; complications; tinnitus etiologies. Results: Nineteen patients (89.4% women) had surgery for suspected sigmoid sinus dehiscence. The mean dehiscence size was 6.1mm (range, 1-10.7 mm). Eight patients had concurrent sigmoid sinus diverticulum and one patient also had jugular bulb dehiscence. Only two patients (10.5%) had the defect identified by radiology. Low-frequency pure-tone average, measured at frequencies of 250 and 500 Hz, showed a significant median improvement of 8.8 dB following resurfacing (18.8 dB versus 10.0 dB, p=0.02). The majority of patients had complete resolution of pulsatile tinnitus (16/ 19, 84.2%). Of those without complete resolution, two patients had partial response and one patient had no improvement. There were no significant complications. Of 41 consecutively tracked patients with a pulsatile tinnitus chief complaint, sigmoid pathology represented 32% of cases. Conclusions: Sigmoid sinus dehiscence represents a common vascular cause of pulsatile tinnitus that, if properly assessed, may be amenable to surgical intervention. Sigmoid sinus resurfacing is safe, does not require decompression, and may improve low-frequency hearing. Radiographic findings of dehiscence are often overlooked without a high index of clinical suspicion. Its relationship with transverse sinus pathology and idiopathic intracranial hypertension remain unclear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-91
Number of pages10
JournalOtology and Neurotology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Objective tinnitus
  • Pulsatile tinnitus
  • Sigmoid resurfacing
  • Sigmoid sinus dehiscence
  • Sigmoid sinus diverticulum
  • Sigmoid sinus wall anomalies


Dive into the research topics of 'Prevalence, surgical management, and audiologic impact of sigmoid sinus dehiscence causing pulsatile tinnitus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this