Strahlenther Onkol. 2011;187(6):350-356.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: To analyze dose distribution in the hearing organ and to evaluate the dose effect on the hearing thresholds in patients treated with post-parotidectomy 3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT).
METHODS AND MATERIALS: A total of 17 patients received post-parotidectomy 3D-CRT (median dose: 63 Gy). The audiometric evaluation comprised pure tone audiometry and tympanometry performed before radiotherapy (RT) and 3, 6, and 24 months after RT. The ear structures were delineated on planning computer tomography scans. Mean and maximum doses were calculated and dose-volume histograms were plotted.
RESULTS: Before RT, the median baseline audiometric thresholds were normal. At 3 months post-RT, 3 patients were diagnosed as having middle ear underpressure and/or effusion that resolved completely by 6 months. During 2-year follow-up, none of the ears showed perceptive hearing loss at speech frequencies. The mean doses at ipsilateral external auditory canal, mastoids cells, tympanic case, Eustachian tube, semicircular canals, and cochlea were 44.8 Gy, 39.0 Gy, 30.9 Gy, 33.0 Gy, 19.6 Gy, and 19.2 Gy, respectively. The doses to the contralateral ear were negligible, except for the Eustachian tube (up to 28.2 Gy).
CONCLUSION: Post-parotidectomy 3D-CRT is associated with relatively low doses to the ear and the surrounding structures. Post-RT audiometry did not show any permanent (neither conductive nor perceptive) hearing impairment. Only in 3 patients were there signs of transient unilateral dysfunction of the Eustachian tube observed during the first few months after RT. Longer follow-up and larger patient series are warranted to confirm these preliminary findings.