Chemical Ablation for Vertigo

Topic Overview

Chemical ablation is sometimes used to reduce severe symptoms of vertigo from Ménière's disease. The goal of treatment for Ménière's disease is to eliminate symptoms while keeping as much hearing in the ear as possible.

During chemical ablation, an antibiotic—usually gentamicin but sometimes streptomycin—is injected with a small, thin needle into the inner ear to damage the part of the ear that controls balance. You are first given a local anesthetic in your ear so the injection isn't painful. The antibiotic is left in your middle ear for about 30 minutes and then allowed to drain out.

Typically, a single injection is given once a week over a course of 4 weeks. It may take 1 to 2 weeks for symptoms of vertigo to totally subside. Treatments stop after you no longer respond to warm or cool water or air as it is gently pulsed into each ear canal. This means that the cells in the balance center of your inner ear have been destroyed.

Chemical ablation is usually reserved for people who haven't been able to control symptoms of severe vertigo with other treatments. Ablation with gentamicin will cause some hearing loss in about 1 out of 4 people who have it.1 The possibility of losing your hearing in one ear is a major consideration when deciding whether to have chemical ablation to treat Ménière's disease. In some cases, the disease may have already damaged your hearing, which makes the risk of being deaf in that ear less of a consideration.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Storper IS (2010). Ménière syndrome. In LP Rowland, TA Pedley, eds., Merritt's Neurology, 12th ed., pp. 963–966. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Barrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology
Last Revised April 12, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Decision Points

Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.

You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:

Interactive Tools

Get started learning more about your health!

Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.

Symptom Checker

Feeling under the weather?

Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.

Symptom Checker