Hearing loss as a late complication of radiotherapy in children with brain tumors

Glenn B. Williams, Larry E. Kun, Herbert J. Gould, Jerome W. Thompson, Rose Mary S. Stocks

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Late postirradiation hearing loss has been well described in the adult population. Few reports exist on the pediatric population. We conducted a retrospective review of 157 consecutive children with brain tumors treated exclusively with irradiation at St Jude Children's Research Hospital. Twenty-six patients developed a hearing loss, 74 did not, and 57 were excluded because of incomplete records. We report a statistically significant 27.41% cumulative risk of a stringent 20-dB hearing loss in the voice frequency range by the fifth year after radiotherapy. The right side demonstrated a significant frequency effect, with a higher incidence of loss in the higher-frequency region. We found no difference in cumulative incidence of hearing shift between the low-, middle-, and high-frequency ranges for either ear. This risk should be anticipated and managed as part of the treatment plan for radiotherapy for the treatment of malignancies. Radiation-induced hearing loss is important to acknowledge so that techniques of hyperfractionation, total dose, ports, preservative infusion medical therapy, or prolonged medical intervention (such as anticoagulants) can be developed that might reduce this disabling problem of postirradiation sensorineural hearing loss in future patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-331
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005


  • Asymmetric hearing loss
  • Delayed sensorineural hearing loss
  • Postirradiation hearing loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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