IMPORTANCE Imaging used to determine the cause of unilateral sensorineural hearing loss (USNHL) in children is often justified by the high likelihood of detecting abnormalities, which implies that these abnormalities are associated with hearing loss and that imaging has a positive contribution to patient outcome or well-being by providing information on the prognosis, hereditary factors, or cause of hearing loss. OBJECTIVES To evaluate the diagnostic yield of computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in children with isolated unexplained USNHL and investigate the clinical relevance of these findings. EVIDENCE REVIEW Cochrane Library, Embase, PubMed, and Web of Science databases were searched for articles published from 1978 to 2017 on studies of children with USNHL who underwent CT and/or MRI of the temporal bone. Two authors (F.G.R. and E.N.B.P.) independently extracted information on population characteristics, imaging modality, and the prevalence of abnormalities and assessed the studies for risk of bias. Eligibility criteria included studies with 20 or more patients with USNHL who had CT and/or MRI scans, a population younger than 18 years, and those published in English. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES The pooled prevalence with 95% CI of inner ear abnormalities grouped according to finding and imaging modality. FINDINGS Of 1562 studies, 18 were included with a total of 1504 participants included in the analysis. Fifteen studies were consecutive case studies and 3 were retrospective cohort studies. The pooled diagnostic yield for pathophysiologic relevant findings in patients with unexplained USNHL was 37% for CT (95% CI, 25%-48%) and 35% for MRI (95% CI, 22%-49%). Cochleovestibular abnormalities were found with a pooled frequency of 19% for CT (95% CI, 14%-25%) and 16% for MRI (95% CI, 7%-25%). Cochlear nerve deficiency and associated cochlear aperture stenosis had a pooled frequency of 16% for MRI (95% CI, 3%-29%) and 44% for CT (95% CI, 36%-53%), respectively. Enlarged vestibular aqueduct (EVA) was detected with a pooled frequency of 7% for CT and 12% for MRI in children with USNHL. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Imaging provided insight into the cause of hearing loss in a pooled frequency of about 35% to 37% in children with isolated unexplained USNHL. However, none of these findings had therapeutic consequences, and imaging provided information on prognosis and hereditary factors only in a small proportion of children, namely those with EVA. Thus, there is currently no convincing evidence supporting a strong recommendation for imaging in children who present with USNHL. The advantages of imaging should be carefully balanced against the drawbacks during shared decision making

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Journal JAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Ropers, F.G., Pham, E.N.B., Kant, S.G, Rotteveel, L.J.C., Rings, E.H.H.M, Verbist, B.M., & Dekkers, O.M. (2019). Assessment of the Clinical Benefit of Imaging in Children With Unilateral Sensorineural Hearing Loss: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, 145(5), 431–443. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2019.0121