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Year: 2006  Vol. 10   Num. 1  - Jan/Mar Print:
Original Article
Texto Text in Portuguese
Incidence of Otologic Symptoms in Pacients on Regular Dialysis Treatment
Incidncia de Sintomas Otolgicos em Pacientes Submetidos a Hemodilise
Juliana Altavilla van Petten Machado1, Gustavo Magalhes Trres1, Alano Nunes Barcellos1, Licianny Tupinamb Valle2, Ludmilla Teixeira2, Marconi Teixeira Fonseca3
Key words:
Hearing loss. Cronic renal failure. Regular dialysis treatment.

Introduction: Hearing loss frequency in patients on regular dialysis treatment range from 20 to 75%. The regular dialysis treatment role in hearing loss is not clear, metabolic changes and electrolyte imbalance may be associated. Aim: Our study focus consists in evaluate the frequency of hearing loss and the prevalence of otovestibular symptoms in patients submitted to regular dialysis treatment. Material and Method: Thirty-five patients with chronic renal failure and regular dialysis treatment were studied. They were submitted and analyzed through tonal audiometry, laboratorial exams and interviews. Results: Eighteen of them show no abnormality in audiometric tests. Seventeen had hearing loss, with eight low, six moderate and three severe hearing losses. No other variables had statistical significance with hearing loss. Conclusion: Hearing loss in patients regular dialysis treatment submitted had low impact in their welfare, and the regular dialysis treatment, also, shows safe in otolaryngology view, for chronic renal failure patients.


Nowadays chronic renal failure (CRF) originates from diabetes mellitus and from hypertensive renal disease which lead to a progressive and irreversible destruction of nefron mass. Glomerulonephritis used to be the cause of CRF, what it is opposite at the present time. Because of precocious treatment performed today, it is a secondary hypothesis. Many patients with CRF are under a conservative treatment and so need dialysis treatment. (1)

Life expectancy for patients with CRF submitted to dialysis treatment has increased due to late progresses, raising the occurrence of late complications such as hearing impairment (2). The occurrence of hearing impairment in patients under dialysis treatment ranges from 20 to 75% in the literature (1).

Bergstrom suggests that before dialysis treatment and kidney transplantation, patients with CRF did not present higher incidence of hearing impairment in relation to general population, perhaps because of early death of these patients (12).

The influence of dialysis treatment on hearing loss is not very clear. Metabolic alterations and hydroelectrolytic disturbance seem to be associated, though choclea of patients under dialysis treatment is sensitive to different attacks including base disease-related (4).

The target of our study was to examine the occurrence of hearing impairment, tinnitus and dizziness in patients submitted to dialysis treatment relating alterations found with its duration, the use of ototoxic drugs, levels of blood urea and anemia.


35 patients with CRF were selected and submitted to dialysis treatment at CLINEMGE (Clnica de Hemodilise - Minas Gerais - Hemodialysis clinic). Age, sex, period of dialysis treatment, previous kidney transplantation, anemia, hypercholesterolemia, the use of furosemide and eritropoentine were analyzed and related to presence of dizziness, vertigo, tinnitus and hearing impairment. We considered anemia-carrier patients the ones who had level of hemoglobin lower than 12 mg/dl to men and 14 mg/dl to women. Presence of hypercholesterolemia was taken into consideration when serum levels of cholesterol were above 240mg/dl. Dizziness, vertigo and tinnitus were evaluated through interviews.

Patients with middle ear pathology and conduction hypoacusis were deprived. Otoscopy and tonal audiometry were performed in all patients (Interacoustics AD28 audiometer). It was tested the frequencies of 250. 500. 1000. 2000. 3000. 4000. 5000. 6000. 7000 and 8000 Hz. Hearing losses were classified as mild (21 to 30dB), moderate (31 to 60dB), severe (61 to 90dB) and profound (above 91dB).

Statistical analysis was performed through Epiinfo 6.04b program and 95% (p<0.05) was the rate of significance considered.

The study was approved by Ethics Committee in Research of Socor Hospital on June 6, 2005. All patients were informed on the study and through Free and Clear Consent Term.


From the 35 studied patients, 24 were male and 11 female aging from 22 to 75 years, with average age of 50.2 years.

The average period patients were submitted to dialysis treatment was 7.9 yeas, raging from 2 to 19 years. (Graph 1)

Graph 1. Distribution of patients during hemodialysis period.

5 patients were submitted to previous kidney transplantation and developed with renal failure and were remained under dialysis treatment. 28 patients (80%), presented anemia and 3 (8.6%) had hypercholesterolemia. 29 (82.9%) were making use of eritropoetine and 14 (40%) of furosemide.

3 (8.6%) patients had intermittent dizziness, 7 (20%) had tinnitus and no patients with vertigo.

Eighteen patients had normal audiometry and 17 (48.5%) had hypoacusis. 8 (22.9%) from these had mild hypoacusis, 6 (17.1%) moderate hypoacusis and 3 (8.6%) severe one. (Graph 2).

Graph 2. Distribution of patients according to hearing loss degree.

From patients with hypoacusis, 10 had sensorineural loss in acute frequencies, 6 in severe and acute frequencies (U inverted curve) and 1 patient in severe frequencies.

In order to perform statistical analysis, we divided patients into two groups, one with patients under 60 years of age and another with patients above 60 years.

There was no expressive statistical difference among hypoacusis, tinnitus and dizziness when related to age, sex, previous kidney transplantation, anemia, hypercholesterolemia, eritropoetine and furosemide use.

From the patients with hypoacusis, 13 were male and 4 were female (Table 1). Hypoacusis and dizziness occurred in two patients at the same time (Table 2). Similarly, hypoacusis and tinnitus occurred in 5 patients at the same time (Table 3) (p>0.05). Graph 3 displays the occurrence of otovestibular symptoms.

Graph 3. Otovestibular symptoms incidence.


According to our study, occurrence of hypoacusis in patients submitted to dialysis treatment was 48.6%, differing from the literature which ranges from 20 to 75% (1).

Period of dialysis treatment did not represent a risk factor to either hypoacusis or dizziness or tinnitus. According to Bazzi, who compared hypoacusis incidence and period of dialysis treatment, patients under such treatment for more than 10 years presented higher occurrence if compared to patients with less than 10 years of treatment, though with no expressive significance (1).

Only three patients complained of dizziness and another three of tinnitus, without being hypoacusis-related, and no patients complained of vertigo. Before dialysis treatment and kidney transplantation, uremic patients presented increased occurrence of hearing loss and vestibular symptoms assigned to ototoxic medication use, hydroelectrolytic balance and improper dialysis (12). None of them presented dizziness and tinnitus at the same time.

Anemia was not considered a risk factor to hypoacusis, dizziness and tinnitus in the current study. Most of patients are using eritropoetine. The use of this, to anemia control, is related to expressive improvement of hearing. Anemia is an important factor to hearing disorders in patients with CRF (8).

Most of patients presented mild and moderate sensorineural loss with predominance in acute frequencies. No patients complained of fluctuating hypoacusis.

When analyzing audiometric curve, we observed that six patients (37.5%) had a worsening of hearing level in acute and severe frequencies, characterizing an inverted U-curve. Several studies show hypoacusis with predominance in acute frequencies, and possibly related to use ototoxic drugs, age, blood thickness (2.9.3). Gatland demonstrates an incidence of hypoacusis of 41% in low frequencies; 15% in medium frequencies, and 53% in high frequencies. It was also showed an improvement of hearing in low frequencies after dialysis treatment in 38% of the cases, and it can be related to occurrence of endolymphatic hydrops caused by alteration of hydroelectrolytic balance (3).

In our study we cannot conclude if dialysis treatment is a risk factor to hypoacusis for the absence of a control group. The literature has different results. According to Mirahmadi, dialysis treatment is not a risk factor to hypoacusis. He compared audiometry results from patients before the first section of dialysis and from 1 to 5 years afterwards, with no expressive difference (5). This information was confirmed by Henrich during a one-to-four-year follow-up, suggesting that hearing impairment is common in patients with CRF and it is multifactorial (6). There was no expressive worsening on hearing comparing patients under conservative treatment, during dialysis treatment and after kidney transplantation (7). Gierek performed otoacoustic emission and audiometry of brainstem which was altered in patients with CRF before and after first section of dialysis and also 6 months afterwards, and found no worsening on hearing threshold (14). This was confirmed by Serbetcioglu who did not find any differences on tonal audiometry results both before and after dialysis treatment section (15). Opposite to Orendorz-Fraczkowska, who performed tonal and brainstem audiometries and otoacoustic emissions before and after sections of dialysis in 20 patients. The study showed an improvement on hearing threshold after dialysis treatment, what is assigned to improvement of hematological standards (uraemia, hyperkalaemia) (16).

Ozturan, who performed tonal audiometry and otoacoustic emmision by product of distortion both before and after sections of dialysis treatment, comparing patients with and without CRF, concludes that hypoacusis can be assigned to preexistent renal failure (11).


Hypoacusis in patients submitted to dialysis treatment presents low impact on their quality of life. We did not identify any risky factor statistically expressive to occurrence of otological symptoms and dialysis treatment proved to be a safe otological viewpoint to patients with terminal CRF.


1. Lazarus MJ, Brenner BMHarrisson. Insuficincia Renal Crnica. In: Harrison TR. Tratado de Medicina Interna. 14a. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Editora McGraw-Hill Interamericana do Brasil; 1998, p. 1613-1620.

2. Orendorz-Fraczkowska K, Makulsla I, Pospiech L, Zwonlinska D. The influence of Haemodialysis on hearing organ of children with chronic renal failure. Otolaryngol Pol. 2002;56(5):597-602.

3. Bazzi C, Venturini CT, Pagani C, Arrigo G, D'Amico G. Hearing loss in short-and long-term haemodialysed patients. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 1995 Oct; 10(10):1865-8.

4. Bergstrom L, Thompson P, Sando I, Wood RP. Renal disease. Its pathology, treatment, and effects on the ear. Arch Otolaryngol. 1980 Sep; 106(9):567-72.

5. Kusakari J, Hara A, Takeyama M, Suzuki S, Igari T. The hearing of the patients treated with hemodialysis: a long term follow-up study. Auris Nasus Larynx. 1992:19(2):105-13.

6. Shaheen FA, Mansuri NA, al-Shaikh AM, Sheikh IA, Huraib SO, al-Khader AA, Zazgornik J. Reversible uremic deafness: id it correlated with the degree of anemia? Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 1997 May; 106(5):391-3.

7. Klingerman AB, Solangi KB, Ventry IM, Goodman AI, Weseley SA. Hearing impairment associated with chronic renal failure. Laryngoscope. 1981 Apr; 91(4):583-92.

8. Nikolopoulos TP, Kandiloros DC, Segas JV, Nomicos PN, Ferekidis EA, Michelis KE, Apostolopoulos NJ, Adamopoulos GK. Auditory function in young pacients with chronic renal failure. Clin Otolaryngol Allied Sci. 1997 Jun; 22(3):222-5.

9. Mirahmadi MK, Vaziri ND. Hearing loss in end-stage renal disease-effect of dialysis. J Dial. 1980;4(4):159-65.

10. Henrich WL, Thompson P, Bergstrom LV, Lum GM. Effect of dialysis on hearing acuity. Nephron. 1977;18(6):348-51.

11. Mancini ML, Dello Strologo L, Bianchi PM, Tieri L, Rizzoni G. Sensorioneural hearing loss in pacients reaching chronic renal failure in childhood. Pediatr Nephrol. 1996 Feb; 10(1):38-40.

12. Ozturan O, Lam S. The effect of hemodialysis on hearing using pure-tone audiometry and distortion-product otoacoustic emissions. ORL J Otorhinolayngol Relat Spec. 1998 Nov-Dec; 60(6):306-13.

13. Gierek T, Markowski J, Kokot F, Paluch J, Wiecek A, Klimek D. Electrophysiological examinations (ABR and DPOAE) of hearing organ in hemodialysed patients suffering from chronic renal failure. Otolaryngol Pol. 2002;56(2):189-94.

14. Orendorz-Fraczkowska K, Makulska I, Pospiech L, Zwolinska D. The influence of haemodialysis on hearing organ of children with chronic renal failure. Otolaryngol Pol. 2002;56(5):597-602.

15. Serbetcioglu MB, Erdogan S, Sifil A. Effects of a single session of hemodialysis on hearing abilities. Acta Otolaryngol. 2001 Oct; 121(7):836-8.

1. Especialist-degree student in Otorhinolaryngology.
2. Speech Doctor of Socor Hospital.
3. PhD in Otorhinolaryngology by FMUSP - Preceptor Doctor of Otorhinolaryngology Service from Socor Hospital.

Institution: Hospital Socor
Mail address: Juliana Altavilla van Petten Machado
Rua Professor Djalma Guimares no. 370 casa - Bairro Mangabeiras - Belo Horizonte MG - Cep 30210190 - Phone: (31) 3281-3380. Fax: (31) 3295-1941. E-mail: eevpm@uai.com.br

Work submitted on January 12, 2006 13:07:08. Codigo de Fluxo: 67, SGP - Sistema de Gesto de Publicaes (Publication Management System) - RAIO (Revista Arquivos de Otorrinolaringoloria).



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