Since somatic or somatosensory tinnitus (ST) was first described as a subtype of subjective tinnitus, where altered somatosensory afference from the cervical spine or temporomandibular area causes or changes a patient’s tinnitus perception, several studies in humans and animals have provided a neurophysiological explanation for this type of tinnitus. Due to a lack of unambiguous clinical tests, many authors and clinicians use their own criteria for diagnosing ST. This resulted in large differences in prevalence figures in different studies and limits the comparison of clinical trials on ST treatment. This study aimed to reach an international consensus on diagnostic criteria for ST among experts, scientists and clinicians using a Delphi survey and face-to-face consensus meeting strategy. Following recommended procedures to gain expert consensus, a two-round Delphi survey was delivered online, followed by an in-person consensus meeting. Experts agreed upon a set of criteria that strongly suggest ST. These criteria comprise items on somatosensory modulation, specific tinnitus characteristics, and symptoms that can accompany the tinnitus. None of these criteria have to be present in every single patient with ST, but in case they are present, they strongly suggest the presence of ST. Because of the international nature of the survey, we expect these criteria to gain wide acceptance in the research field and to serve as a guideline for clinicians across all disciplines. Criteria developed in this consensus paper should now allow further investigation of the extent of somatosensory influence in individual tinnitus patients and tinnitus populations.
- Delphi survey
- Face-to-face consensus