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Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome

What Is Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome?

Superior canal dehiscence syndrome (SCDS) is a rare disorder that affects less than 2 percent of the general population. It occurs when a thinning or opening (dehiscence) develops in the bone covering the superior semicircular canal of the inner ear, which affects balance and hearing.

The average age at diagnosis is approximately 45 years old. There can be many causes of this problem, including:

  • Family history — This disorder may run in families.
  • Physical trauma — Injuries to the head can cause this problem.


Symptoms can include:

  • Dizziness (vertigo) — Feelings of unbalance, floating or spinning are common and can lead to falls or injuries. This can occur after hearing a loud sound or after straining while lifting a heavy weight. A vague sense of imbalance can occur continuously due to superior canal dehiscence.
  • Autophony — The sound level of the person’s own voice and breathing may seem to increase in the affected ear. 
  • Pulsing tinnitus — People with this disorder can often hear their heartbeat or other pulsing sounds in their affected ear(s).
  • High hearing sensitivity to internal sounds — People with this disorder can sometimes hear internal sounds, such as their eyes moving or their joints moving.
  • Ear pressure — Sufferers may experience a feeling of fullness or pressure inside the ears.
  • Hearing loss — Partial hearing loss may be present.
  • Noise sensitivity — Sensitivity to loud noises may be more common.

Treatment Options

Those who have SCDS may be able to tolerate the symptoms, and reduce their severity by avoiding situations and sensations (i.e. loud noise) that worsen them. When lifestyle modifications don’t work, surgical options include:

  • Plugging — Using a middle cranial fossa or mastoid approach, the dehiscence is plugged.
  • Reinforcement — The round window membrane is reinforced using a tympanotomy or tympanoplasty approach.

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of superior canal dehiscence syndrome, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat superior canal dehiscence syndrome.