In this condition patients have a constant hollow feeling in the ear and able to constantly hear internal sounds such as breathing, footsteps, and heartbeat.
This condition which was only recently identified and explained by Dr. Lloyd Minor can present with hollow feeling in the ear, hearing loss, vertigo or balance problems particularly with exposure to loud noise or pressure changes. Many patients will have the ability to hear internal sounds such as breathing, walking, and rarely eye movements. Some are also able to hear their heartbeat in the affected ear constantly. The pathophysiology of the disease is relatively well understood but as of now we are not certain what the cause is. In this condition the bone overlying one of the balance canals, namely the superior semicircular canal, becomes eroded and the sound energy can escape or enter the inner ear via this “third window”. Normally there are only 2 windows into the inner ear so with the addition of a third one patient will developed the above mentioned symptoms.
Treatment of the condition is surgical and over the years has evolved into plugging of the affected canal. Studies have shown that simply resurfacing the area with a piece of bone or cartilage might not have long lasting effect. The surgery could be done either through the mastoid cavity or via the middle fossa approach. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages and could be more appropriate based on your anatomy, symptoms, and other factors.