The importance of audiologic red flags in patient management decisions

David A. Zapala, Kathryn Shaughnessy, Jill Buckingham, David B. Hawkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: It is essential that nonbenign forms of hearing impairment are recognized and addressed before audiological management is entertained. Purpose: To present an illustrative case and focused literature review of early red flag indicators for retrocochlear impairment, as might be discerned from a patient's history or physical examination. Results: The presenting history and clinical course of a female patient with fatal adenocarcinoma presenting as a suspected retrocochlear mass is reviewed over the last four months of her life. Clinical signs, symptoms and test results pointing to the diagnosis of "acoustic neuroma" and then "metastatic neoplasm" are reviewed along with selected supporting reference literature. The ambiguous clinical pictures at various points in her history are analyzed, with an effort to point out how early audiological decisions may significantly impact patient's overall health. Conclusions: Clear communication with primary care physicians, vigilance when audiological results are ambiguous for active disease, and pre-established referral relationships with practitioners in the neurologic and otologic disciplines are stressed as important requirements for audiologists who serve as entry points into hearing healthcare.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)564-570
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Audiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2008


  • Cerebellopontine angle
  • Cranial nerves
  • Retrocochlear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing


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