Vitiligo is an acquired, sometimes familiar, depigmentary disorder resulting from selective destruction of melanocytes and is characterized by pearl-white skin patches of different shapes and sizes. It is clinically divided into two main forms, segmental vitiligo (SV) and non-segmental vitiligo (NSV).
Several authors studied the association between vitiligo and hearing loss, considering the damage of the otic melanocytes as a potential pathogenic factor. They may have a potential role in maintaining inner ear homeostasis and its functions (hearing and balance).
The VEMPs test is a vestibular exam, able to study the otolith organs, investigate utricular and saccular functions, and differentiate between superior and inferior nerve involvement.
The study published in BJBMS aimed to investigate audiological abnormalities and the possibility of vestibular damage in a group of patients affected by vitiligo. The authors from the Sapienza University used a diagnostic protocol including pure tone audiometry, caloric test, cervical VEMPs (C-VEMPs), and ocular VEMPs (O-VEMPs). Furthermore, in the vestibular diagnostic protocol, they evaluated the implementation of traditional types of vestibular examinations with new methods for obtaining a more precise evaluation.
In their series, 35 patients with NSV were investigated: 24 (69%) patients were found to suffer from bilateral hearing loss, and 3 (8%) patients presented a monaural hearing loss; 40% of NSV patients had VEMPs alterations. It is the highest value reported in the literature.
Therefore, it is possible to affirm that the protocol performed may be a valid method to diagnose latent inner ear deficits.
Manno A, Pace A, Iannella G, Rossetti V, Polimeni R, Milani A, Cocuzza S, Maniaci A, Magliulo G. Audiological and vestibular evaluations in vitiligo patients. Bosn J of Basic Med Sci]. 2021. Available from: https://www.bjbms.org/ojs/index.php/bjbms/article/view/5703
Editor: Edna Skopljak, MD