Chemical ablation for vertigo

Chemical ablation is sometimes used to reduce severe symptoms of vertigo. During this procedure, an antibiotic—usually gentamicin but sometimes streptomycin sulfate—is injected with a small, thin needle into the inner ear to damage the part of the ear that controls balance. You are first given a local anesthetic in your ear so the injection is not painful. The antibiotic is left in your middle ear for about 30 minutes and then allowed to drain out.

Typically, a single injection is given once a week over a course of 4 weeks. It may take 1 to 2 weeks for symptoms of vertigo to totally subside. Treatments stop once you no longer respond to warm or cool water or air as it is gently pulsed into each ear canal. This indicates that the cells in the balance center of your inner ear have been destroyed.

Chemical ablation is usually reserved for people who have not been able to control symptoms of severe vertigo with other treatments.

Last Updated: October 20, 2008

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