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pulsatile tinnitus/glomus tumor?

Posted by catherinet (My Page) on
Sat, Oct 18, 08 at 13:45

Hi all,
I just had a 2 and 1/2 hour MRI of my brain and neck yesterday. I have had pulsatile tinnitus (hearing heartbeat in my ear most of the time) for about 2-3 years, and I finally went to an ear specialist a few weeks ago, and he ordered the MRI. Hopefully, it will be just because my carotid is laying on a bone, and transmitting the sound to my ear, but it could also be something like an A-V malformation, aneurysm, or something called a glomus tumor in my ear.
I'm curious if any of you have ever had pulsatile tinnitus, and was it ever one of these more unfortunate diagnoses??
My doc is well-known for his work with ears (haha..that sounds funny), but he said that regular tinnitus (ringing in the ears) can be age-related, but that pulsatile tinnitus doesn't come from aging.
Anyhow.....does anyone have any personal experience with this? Thanks.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: pulsatile tinnitus/glomus tumor?

My MRI came back normal, so fortunately I don't have a tumor.

RE: pulsatile tinnitus/glomus tumor?

I went through all this in 1995, the doctors were sure I had a glomus tomor on the vagus nerve, the MRI seemed to confirm it, so they ordered a arteriogram to see exactly what was going on in preparation for the surgery which was to be scheduled later. It did turn out to be a large caratid artery that was close to the bone.

It was a very scary process b/c from November to February, until the arteriogram proved otherwise, I had that tunor.

From what my dr at the time had told me, glomus tumors are fairly common and can be easily removed depending on their location. So try to relax, it may all work out no matter whar. A friend of mine's mother did require surgery for this, and although the recovery period in here case was long, she is doing well now.

My Dr decided I could have a fissure, for which did have surgery topatch the eardrum. Some ear doc's don't even believe they occur, This actually did lessen the pulsating tinnitus, it lasted for several months until I yelled loudly at my teenage son to get the heck out of bed to go to school, and it blew out. I felt the difference immediately. I returned to the dr's, this time a different Dr, as mine had been transferred, this was at Walter Reed Hospital, and the Dr I saw said he didn't believe in fissures, even though the testing performed followinig the surgery showed improvement in my hearing.

RE: pulsatile tinnitus/glomus tumor?

Thanks sandy,

Will the MRI show if the carotid is laying beside the bone?
My ear doc said that if the MRA (MRI with contrast) and MRV showed normal, he might consider having me see a neurologist to rule out NPH (Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus). I guess pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of that condition too.
I have fibromyalgia and have tons of weird symptoms. It seems as though my sensory perception is set too high. What's interesting, is that I've asked some of my Internet Fibromyalgia friends about pulsatile tinnitus, and a number of them have it too! So who knows.
Its very irritating to hear this loud pulse all the time, but its definitely comforting to know its not some vessel that's about to blow, or a tumor.
Thanks for your response!

RE: pulsatile tinnitus/glomus tumor?

I don't think that the MRI showed that I infact did not have a glomus tumor: I don't think that was actually confirmed until I had the arteriogram, which was necessary to see how the blood flow was involved.

We met with the two Dr's who were to perform the surgery right before Christmas while my husband was home for a week from Honduras. When we were looking at the results, ( of the MRI?)I mentioned that that it ( the tumor) looked rather big. One of the Dr's, with all his wondrous bedside manner, said yes, it's huge. That was extremely reassuring, as you can imagine.

My mother had died of a verebral hemorage in her early 50's, so I felt relieved overall, not to have something that was unpredictable.

I have gradually grown used to it, however, i have since developed tinnitus in the left ear, sometimes pulsating, somoetimes not. I don't like having all these noises in my head, however, it's better than hearing voices. :>)

RE: pulsatile tinnitus/glomus tumor?

Has your doc discussed any medications with you- ones that you are on now? One of the common side effects of many meds is nausea and tinnitus.
Just a little knowledge for you- your situation may be very different.

RE: pulsatile tinnitus/glomus tumor?

Hi ilmbg,
The only meds I've been on are calcium and magnesium and occasional other vitamins. I asked if the calcium could be building up in my ears (on the bones), and he said no.
I did notice it starting up a few years ago, when I came off a beta I don't know if it somehow caused this, or if it was going to start up anyhow.
I tend to be aware of things long before they show up on tests, so maybe something will eventually show up. I hate this heartbeat in my ear......but for now, just knowing its not a big honkin' tumor, I'm better able to tolerate it.
Thanks for your suggestion! You're absolutely right, that lots of meds (prescription and over-the-counter) can cause alot of tinnitus.

RE: pulsatile tinnitus

I seem to have picked up pulsatile tinnitus in my left ear over the summer. I was using a handheld vac on a stairwell up by my head. I do think it all began then. My ear doctor took out a lot of earwax there twice but no relief. She set me up with a sonogram of head blood vessels. Very good "youthful" blood flow found. I guess MRI may be next.
I am a very healthy peson, but for some dental stuff needed.
I like to solve any health stuff with diet and exercise but this baffles me.

Any insights here?


RE: pulsatile tinnitus/glomus tumor?

I emailed you Jay.

RE: pulsatile tinnitus/glomus tumor?

I have developed tinnitis in my left ear over the past 2 years, I take Solaray Calcium Magnesium supps, I've been told it's pulsatile becsuse i get the pulsing constant now. I've been told to check for a glomus and other than that it sounds exactly like what you're all going through. I am 52 years old and hoped I would be totally healthy forever - of course! I originally thought it was a root canal related issue but I pulled the tooth and no change. Who is the best Doc to go to for a analysis? I'd rather just go to a lab and not have to deal with a doctor. I usually diagnose much better than they do anyway. I just want to go through the checklist without all their additional costs.

RE: pulsatile tinnitus/glomus tumor?

Can someone please email me at, who has had surgery for this tumor i now after i had surgery and it started at eight weeks after surgery i am experience the side effect after surgery of tinitus in my left ear where the tumor was removed from.
Thanks would like to very much hear from someone and where all are your fom anybody in MIssissippi.

RE: pulsatile tinnitus/glomus tumor?

I have pulsatile Tinnitus, and it is at its worst at night...I have found that if I put ear phones in and listen to very quite music, this will over ride the pulsing and I am able to go to sleep

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