Severe Dizziness Traced to Hole in Skull Bone

Moving right along from disorders that are “all in your head,” here’s a rare one that researchers have linked to a hole in your head.

For the unfortunately afflicted, a loud noise can trigger severe dizziness.

One sufferer fell off a bulldozer.

Another felt the universe spinning during a violent coughing fit.

Both were diagnosed with superior canal dehiscence syndrome, which is caused by a hole in part of the skull bone that overlies the inner ear balance canal.

Patients with it develop the feeling that a room is moving when they hear loud music, the noise of a sports event or even something as seemingly innocuous as a telephone dial tone.


Dr. Lloyd Minor of the Johns Hopkins Center for Hearing and Balance in Baltimore identified the disorder and traced it to a congenital source with the help of a 30-year-old collection of 1,000 skull bones. He and his team examined 989 specimens and found four with holes in the bone and an additional 18 where the bone was thin.

Treatment can be as simple as wearing earplugs or as complicated as surgery to plug the hole with a combination of muscle tissue and bone dust.

The findings were presented last week at the Assn. for Research in Otolaryngology meeting in St. Petersburg, Fla.