What is a semicircular canal occlusion?

Semicircular canal occlusion is a surgical treatment for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Only approximately 5 percent of patients will need surgical treatments to relieve the symptoms of BPPV.

Who is a candidate for a semicircular canal occlusion?

If you are experiencing vertigo as a result of Meniere’s disease and more conservative treatments have not been effective, you may be a candidate for semicircular canal occlusion.

It is most effective in patients where the posterior semicircular canal is affected. Other canals can be treated with this procedure, but the risk of hearing loss is greater.

Risks associated with a semicircular canal occlusion

Risks associated with semicircular canal occlusion include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Dizziness
  • Imbalance
  • Facial nerve damage
  • Hearing loss
  • Tinnitus
  • Complications related to anesthesia

What to expect during a semicircular canal occlusion

A mechanical occlusion of the affected posterior semicircular canal is the most common type of semicircular canal occlusion. It is performed through an incision behind the external ear. Your doctor will perform a mastoidectomy and remove the bone between the scalp and inner ear. Your surgical team will then open the posterior semicircular canal and destroy the lumen. The inner ear is preserved during this procedure.

Recovery from a semicircular canal occlusion

You will need a short hospital stay after a semicircular canal occlusion. You will be able to be able to move around after surgery but may experience balance problems. These will subside over the course of a few weeks. You may also experience temporary hearing loss after the surgery. Some patients may experience permanent hearing loss as a result of this procedure.

In most patients, the positional vertigo is relieved. Some patients may experience temporary hearing loss, but it will resolve gradually.

Results from a semicircular canal occlusion

Although only a very small percentage of patients will be candidates for a semicircular canal occlusion, patients who undergo the procedure typically experience relief from BPPV.

Find an ENT doctor nearby

Mercy Health locations that can treat you