To investigate a rare anomaly of the internal auditory canal known as a patulous canal and its relationship to hearing impairment.
High-resolution computed tomographic scans of the temporal bones of patients who presented between August 2001 and August 2002 were reviewed. The patients' medical charts were evaluated for age, sex, and hearing impairment, and the computed tomographic scans were examined for the presence of a patulous canal.
The study group included 645 patients who underwent high-resolution computed tomography of the temporal bones for various reasons, including sensorineural hearing loss (50% of patients). A patulous canal without any associated anomaly of the labyrinth was the only finding in 2 patients. Both patients had chronic middle ear disease along with conductive hearing loss.
Patulous canal is a rare anatomical variant of the internal auditory canal (0.3%), and its association with inflammatory ear disease accompanied by conductive hearing impairment appears to have been incidental in both cases in the present study.