A case of acoustic trauma caused by side-airbag deployment

Ayana Komurasaki, Takayuki Okano, Koichi Omori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Several studies until the early 2000's reported the occurrence of hearing loss and other auditory deficits as a result of deployment of airbags in vehicles. Although the number of publications on acoustic trauma caused by airbag deployment appears to have decreased recently, patients with acoustic trauma caused by airbag inflation are still encountered, and early intensive treatment after acoustic trauma is thought to be essential for recovery from hearing loss. Herein, we present a case of acoustic trauma of the right ear caused by side-airbag inflation. A 32-year-old male was driving at the speed of about 40 km/h, when he was hit by a car from the right rear; the collision caused the airbag on the right side to deploy with a crashing sound. The subject developed persistent tinnitus and hearing loss in the right ear, and presented to our clinic. He had no history of vertigo or dizziness at the first referral. Otoscopic examination revealed no signs of bleeding or perforation of the tympanic membrane. Pure-tone audiometry revealed sensorineural hearing loss affecting high frequencies in the right ear. Computed tomography of the temporal bone revealed no abnormal findings. The patient was started on treatment with prednisolone and vitamin B12. Repeat pure-tone audiometry after nine days of medication revealed improvement of the hearing loss in intermediate frequencies, but no improvement in the tinnitus in the right ear. Subsequent treatment 8 sessions of hyperbaric oxygen therapy also failed to improve the hearing loss in high frequencies or tinnitus. In summary, permanent hearing loss or tinnitus can sometimes occur as a result of airbag deployment. It is important to be aware of the possibility of inner ear damage as one of the complications of air bag deployment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-92
Number of pages6
JournalPractica Oto-Rhino-Laryngologica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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