Steroid Nomenclature in Inner Ear Therapy

Alec N. Salt, Stefan K. Plontke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Local glucocorticosteroid ("steroid") therapy is widely used to treat the inner ears of patients with Menière's disease, idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss and in combination with cochlear implants. Applied steroids have included dexamethasone, methylprednisolone, and triamcinolone. In reality, however, this is often not true and the steroid forms commonly applied are dexamethasone-phosphate, methylprednisolone-hemisuccinate, or triamcinolone-Acetonide. In each case, the additional component is not a counter-ion but is covalently bound to the molecule to increase aqueous solubility or potency. These drug forms are approved for intravenous or intramuscular delivery and are used "off-label" in the ear. When given systemically, the molecular form of the drug is of minor importance as the drugs are rapidly metabolized. In contrast, when administered intratympanically, the exact form of the drug has a major influence on entry into perilymph and elimination from perilymph, which in turn influences distribution along the cochlear scalae. Dexamethasone-phosphate has completely different molecular properties to dexamethasone and has different pharmacokinetic properties entering and leaving perilymph. Molecular properties and perilymph pharmacokinetics also differ markedly for triamcinolone and triamcinolone-Acetonide. Methylprednisolone-hemisuccinate has completely different molecular properties to methylprednisolone. In the ear, different steroid forms cannot therefore be regarded as equivalent in terms of pharmacokinetics or efficacy. This presents a terminology problem, where in many cases the drug stated in publications may not be the form actually administered. The lack of precision in nomenclature is a serious problem for the inner ear drug delivery field and needs to be recognized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)722-726
Number of pages5
JournalOtology and Neurotology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Inner ear drug delivery
  • Intratympanic therapy
  • Round window membrane
  • Steroid


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