BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Endolymphatic hydrops has been recognized as the underlying pathophysiology of Menière disease. We used 3T MR imaging to detect and grade endolymphatic hydrops in patients with Menière disease and to correlate MR imaging findings with the clinical severity.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: MR images of the inner ear acquired by a 3D inversion recovery sequence 4 hours after intravenous contrast administration were retrospectively analyzed by 2 neuroradiologists blinded to the clinical presentation. Endolymphatic hydrops was classified as none, grade I, or grade II. Interobserver agreement was analyzed, and the presence of endolymphatic hydrops was correlated with the clinical diagnosis and the clinical Menière disease score.
RESULTS: Of 53 patients, we identified endolymphatic hydrops in 90% on the clinically affected and in 22% on the clinically silent side. Interobserver agreement on detection and grading of endolymphatic hydrops was 0.97 for cochlear and 0.94 for vestibular hydrops. The average MR imaging grade of endolymphatic hydrops was 1.27 ± 0.66 for 55 clinically affected and 0.65 ± 0.58 for 10 clinically normal ears. The correlation between the presence of endolymphatic hydrops and Menière disease was 0.67. Endolymphatic hydrops was detected in 73% of ears with the clinical diagnosis of possible, 100% of probable, and 95% of definite Menière disease.
CONCLUSIONS: MR imaging supports endolymphatic hydrops as a pathophysiologic hallmark of Menière disease. High interobserver agreement on the detection and grading of endolymphatic hydrops and the correlation of MR imaging findings with the clinical score recommend MR imaging as a reliable in vivo technique in patients with Menière disease. The significance of MR imaging detection of endolymphatic hydrops in an additional 22% of asymptomatic ears requires further study.