Blast injury of the ear in a confined space explosion: Auditory and vestibular evaluation

Jacob T. Cohen, Gil Ziv, Joseph Bloom, Daniel Zikk, Yoram Rapoport, Mordechai Z. Himmelfarb*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The ear is the most frequent organ affected during an explosion. Recognition of possible damage to its auditory and vestibular components, and particularly the recovery time of the incurred damage, may help in planning the optimal treatment strategies for the otologic manifestations of blast injury and preventing deleterious consequences. Objective: To report the results of the oto-vestibular initial evaluation and follow-up of 17 survivors of a suicide terrorist attack on a municipal bus. Methods: These 17 patients underwent periodic ear inspections and pure tone audiometry for 6 months. Balance studies, consisting of electronystagmography and computerized dynamic posturography were performed at the first time possible. Results: Complaints of earache, aural fullness and tinnitus resolved, whereas dizziness persisted in most of the patients. By the end of the follow-up, 15 (55.6%) of the eardrum perforations had healed spontaneously. Hearing impairment was detected in 33 of the 34 tested ears. Recovery of hearing was complete in 6 ears and partial in another 11. ENG and CDP were performed in 13 patients: 5 had abnormal results on CDP while the ENG was normal in all the patients. Of the seven patients who complained of vertigo, only one improved and was free of symptoms 1 month after the explosion. Conclusion: Exposure to a high powered explosion in a confined space may result in severe auditory and vestibular damage. Awareness of these possible ear injuries may prevent many of the deleterious consequences of such injuries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-562
Number of pages4
JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Balance disorders
  • Blast injury
  • Electronystagmography
  • Hearing disorders
  • Posturography


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