Definition

Sensorineural hearing loss is defined as an increase in the sound reception threshold secondary to dysfunction of the inner ear or the cochlear branch of the eighth cranial nerve. In contrast, conductive hearing loss results from pathology within the external, or, more commonly, the middle ear. In mixed hearing loss, there are both conductive and sensorineural components. The vast majority of systemic diseases are associated with sensorineural hearing loss. One notable exception is Wegener's granulomatosis, which commonly manifests with middle-ear pathology; this is discussed in detail in Chapter 8.

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