Christian M. Siedentopf, Department of Radiology II, Division of Neuroradiology, University Hospital of Innsbruck, Austria
Transmeatal cochlear laser (TCL) treatment has recently been proposed as a therapeutic procedure for cochlear dysfunction such as chronic cochlear tinnitus or sensorineural hearing loss. The aim of this study was to investigate whether TLC has any influence on the central nervous system using functional MRI with healthy young adults. The laser stimulation device was placed on the tympanic membrane of both ears. A laser stimulation run and a placebo run were performed in random order. The participants were unable to differentiate between verum and placebo stimulation. In the comparison of verum to placebo runs, we observed significant activations within the left superior frontal gyrus, the right middle and medial frontal gyrus, the right superior parietal lobule, the left superior occipital gyrus, the precuneus and cuneus bilaterally, the right anterior and the left and right middle and posterior cingulate gyrus and the left thalamus. This network of brain areas corresponds well to results from previous PET studies of patients with tinnitus. Though TCL seems to have a clinically measurable effect on the central nervous system the neurophysiological mechanism leading to the observed activated neuronal network remains unknown.