To evaluate electrophysiologically the auditory nerve and the auditory brainstem function of patients with tinnitus and normal-hearing thresholds using the auditory brainstem response (ABR).
Ambulatory section of the Department of Otolaryngology, Hospital de Base de Brasília.
Thirty-seven individuals with tinnitus and 38 without tinnitus, with ages ranging from 20 to 45 years and pure-tone thresholds of 25 dB or better at frequencies between 500 and 8000 Hz.
Main Outcome Measures
We compared the latencies of waves I, III, and V; the interpeak intervals I-III, III-V, and I-V; the interaural latency difference (wave V); and the V/I amplitude ratio between the 2 groups.
Among the 37 patients in the study group, abnormal results were found in 16 (43%) in at least 1 of the 8 parameters evaluated. When we analyzed the latencies, although the values were on average in the normal range used in the present study, the tinnitus group presented a significant prolongation of the latencies of waves I, III, and V when compared with the control group. Furthermore, we found the interpeak I-III, III-V, and I-V values to be within the normal limits, but the interpeak III-V value was significantly (P = .003) enlarged in the study group compared with the control group. The V/I amplitude ratio found in the tinnitus group was within normal limits; however, a significant (P = .004) difference was found when the 2 groups were compared. The averages of the interaural latency difference (wave V) did not show significant differences in relation to the control group.
We conclude that, although the averages obtained in several analyzed parameters were within normal limits, the ABR results from the patients with and without tinnitus and normal hearing are different, suggesting that ABR might contribute to the workup of these patients. Our data show that there are changes in the central pathways in the study group. The meaning of these changes must be further investigated.