In the murine model, intratympanic steroids caused an initial upregulation of inflammatory cytokine genes in the IE, as well as predominant upregulation of ion homeostasis genes. These findings suggest that glucocorticoids do not suppress IE inflammation but rather cause an initial inflammatory response in the IE. Thus, inflammatory gene suppression is not a likely mechanism for their hearing restorative effects. On the other hand, these steroids have a significant mineralocorticoid function, as demonstrated by increased function of ion homeostasis genes, implicating their ionic and fluid regulatory properties as a mechanism for their therapeutic effects.
The injections are performed with the patient lying down and using the office microscope. The ear is first cleaned of wax. A small area of the eardrum is numbed with a drop of medication. A small needle and syringe are then used and the needle is passed through the eardrum at the site that is numbed so that the tip is in the ear, near the round window. This is a membrane where drugs are absorbed in to the cochlea. The fluid is injected in to the middle ear and the patient stays lying down for 20-30 minutes during which he does not swallow or sniff. The drug sits against the round window and is absorbed in to the inner ear. The patient then sits up slowly and leaves the office. Patients should not drive for a few hours after this procedure. Water is kept out of the ear until it is confirmed that the tiny hole has healed.
Recently, doctors have started injecting steroids directly into the middle ear — a procedure called intratympanic treatment. This technique is thought to deliver more of the drug to the ear and to avoid some of the side effects that can come along with oral steroids. The side effects of oral therapy can be mild, like weight gain, mood changes and sleep disruption, or more serious, like high blood pressure and elevated blood sugar. Side effects of injected steroids are usually local, such as ear infection and vertigo. However, up until now, no study had compared the 2 treatments to see whether direct injection worked as well as oral steroids.