What is it?

Superior canal dehiscence syndrome (SCDS) is a rare condition where there is an abnormal opening between the uppermost semicircular canal in the inner ear and the brain. This opening can cause problems with hearing and balance as sound can leak through and cause reverberations in the brain, and vibrations can move the fluid in the canal. The uppermost semicircular canal is crucial for both hearing and balance, and the condition is caused by a failure of this canal to close or thicken normally during fetal development.

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Signs & symptoms

SCDS can cause intermittent or constant problems with hearing and balance. Loud noises or physical actions like coughing or sneezing can cause a sensation of tumbling or bobbing up and down, while autophony is another disturbing symptom where sound from inside the body is heard directly through the abnormal opening. Speaking can also be difficult as patients may hear their voice simultaneously from inside and outside the body, leading many to resort to whispering.


Diagnosis of SCDS usually takes place when your doctor refers you to an ENT or neurologist specialist. Based on your complaints, a CT scan may be used to detect the dehiscence process. Another diagnostic test, called vestibular evoked myogenic potential (VEMP), should also be used. This kind of test determines vestibular function by applying a repetitive sound stimulus to one ear and then averaging the reaction of the muscle activity in response to each sound click or pulse.


Surgery is a recommended option for those who suffer from debilitating SCDS symptoms. The procedure involves a craniotomy or mastoid approach to gain access to the inner ear, and may use image guidance. The surgeon blocks the canal to reduce fluid movement and may also resurface it. Proper patient selection results in successful outcomes, with significant relief from hearing and balance symptoms after the surgery.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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