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What is Superior Semicircular Canal Dehiscence Syndrome (SSCD)?

What is SSCD? How does SSCD develop? What are the Symptoms of SSCD? How is SSCD diagnosed? How is SSCD treated?

Superior Semicircular Canal Dehiscence, or SSCD, is a bony abnormality of the inner ear. It occurs when the bone which separates the inner ear from the brain is overly thin or missing.

The ear can be divided into three regions: The outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. The inner ear is composed of the semicircular canal, cochlea, and vestibule. The semicircular canal is a bundle of three looped and fluid-filled structures that are responsible for balance and auditory transmission.

A superior semicircular canal dehiscence is when the semicircular canal, that sits in the uppermost ear against the base of the skull, has an abnormal opening within it. This abnormal opening can cause sound to dissipate within the inner ear as well as cause dizziness.

SSCD is believed to be developed at birth and is thought to be a genetic defect. Overtime, the malformation within the canal can worsen, leading to the onset of symptoms associated with the syndrome.

Many patients can have SSCD without any symptoms at all. These asymptomatic patients can be diagnosed with the abnormality when it is incidentally found on CT or MRI of their head.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Fullness in ear
  • Hearing one’s own voice (autophony)
  • Episodic vertigo (exacerbated by loud noise, straining, or pressure on the ear canal)
  • Noise sensitivity (Hyperacusis)
  • Pulsatile Tinnitus
  • Hearing loss

*The symptoms of SCDS can get worse over time.

The symptoms of SSCD overlap with several other conditions of the inner ear. This can make the diagnosis of SCDS difficult. However, a skilled otologist can ask the right questions, perform a detailed examination, and obtain a high-resolution CT scan of the inner ear to help come up with the diagnosis.

There are several surgical techniques utilized to correct SSCD through plugging and/or resurfacing the canal, these include:

  • Trans-Mastoid Occlusion Surgery
  • Middle Fossa Craniotomy
  • Trans-canal round window reinforcement.


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