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Summary: Two patients, ages 72 and 71, who underwent lumbar decompressive surgery for spinal stenosis, were evaluated for postoperative sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL). After two uncomplicated spinal procedures, both patients developed SSHL immediately after surgery. Hearing loss was moderate to profound in these two patients. None of the patients had a significant otologic history. Nitrous oxide administration, Valsalva maneuvers during general anesthesia, and transient drops in cerebrospinal fluid pressure stemming from spinal decompression may, in some combination, lead to an implosive force on the inner ear, causing SSHL. Further causes of postlumbar surgery SSHL may include microemboli or viral infections. SSHL is a rare but possible complication after nonotologic, noncardiac bypass surgery; only 26 cases of SSHL after this surgery have been reported. We encourage the continued reporting of sudden sensorineural hearing loss after spinal surgery.

(C) 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.