Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center
Tinnitus is a noise or ringing in the ear that may be associated with age-associated hearing loss.
Pulsatile tinnitus is also ringing in the ear, but can be described as a "swishing sound" that usually beats with the heart. The sound may be aggravated with exercise, as the heart rate increases, for example. Sometimes the sound is so intense that it may be disruptive to a person's sleep or daily life. One of the causes may be due to the sound of blood flowing through vessels transmitted near the ear. Often, diagnosis of the cause of pulsatile tinnitus involves the imaging of the vascular system of the head and neck.
CT or MRI are usually the first tests that can be used to evaluate the ear anatomy and its surrounding blood vessels. If these tests do not reveal a cause of the tinnitus, cerebral angiography may be considered, particularly for patients who have severe symptoms. Diseases such as dural arteriovenous fistula or glomus tympanicum may be detected with angiography.