This paper evaluates post-irradiation hearing changes in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) from a disability orientated approach, which takes into account binaural hearing. Newly diagnosed patients with NPC were studied before radiotherapy, and at four to 12 months (mean 9.2 months) after radiotherapy, provided they remained disease-free. Each patient was examined clinically and with pure tone audiograms. Tympanometry was used to confirm middle ear effusion. Averaged hearing thresholds over 0.5,1 and 2 kHz were evaluated. If abnormal (>30 dB), the resultant hearing disability was illustrated by a modified Glasgow Plot. Twenty-three males and 10 females completed the study. Middle ear effusions resulted in 39.3 per cent (binaural in two patients) and 33.3 per cent (binaural in five patients) of patients having hearing disability pre- and post-irradiation respectively. No patient had hearing disability as a result of a sensorineural loss. It is recommended that future reporting of post-irradiation hearing changes in patients with NPC, as in middle ear surgery, be considered from a disability-orientated approach.
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