Steven D. Rauch, ., a professor of otology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary at Harvard Medical School in Boston, led the study team of clinical investigators in 16 medical centers across the United States. The clinical trial followed more than 250 patients with sudden deafness for six months. The oral treatment group received 60 milligrams of oral prednisone per day for 14 days, followed by a tapering-off period of an additional five days. The IT group received 40 milligrams of methylprednisolone injected through the eardrum, or tympanic membrane, into the middle ear four times over the course of two weeks. Hearing was tested after one and two weeks of treatment, and again at two and six months during follow-up.
Recently, doctors have started injecting steroids directly into the middle ear — a procedure called intratympanic treatment. This technique is thought to deliver more of the drug to the ear and to avoid some of the side effects that can come along with oral steroids. The side effects of oral therapy can be mild, like weight gain, mood changes and sleep disruption, or more serious, like high blood pressure and elevated blood sugar. Side effects of injected steroids are usually local, such as ear infection and vertigo. However, up until now, no study had compared the 2 treatments to see whether direct injection worked as well as oral steroids.