Deafness/Hearing Impairment/hearing loss


I have a friend (older) who just had his knee replaced well during his healing time (about 3 weeks) his left ear hearing which was excellent just went dead over night went to hospital there was no wax build up nothing they are confused (here in Maine)

Dear Ray,

There are rare instances of this occurrence in the Medical literature.

The first reported case of unilateral deafness following a single knee replacement was three years ago in 2010. The probable cause was a fat embolism which clogged a blood vessel leading to the cochlea or inner ear.

An earlier study in 2003 found unilateral deafness following a bilateral knee replacement. Their diagnosis was also "deafness secondary to a fat embolism".

I do not know if the following procedure was done with your friend, but sometimes prior to surgery, a preventative IV injection of "gentamycin" is given in order to reduce the chances of infection.  Gentamycin has been established long ago as an "ototoxic" medication.  Unfortunately in one case that I know of in which gentamycin was administered prior to a unilateral knee replacement, the patient lost all of her hearing in one ear.  The deafness was in this case attributed to the gentamycin which destroyed the delicate structures of the cochlea.

My advice for your friend is to seek an ENT with a very solid reputation, and ask what are the treatment options.  He may suggest  systemic steroids, antiviral medications, vasodilators, carbogen therapy, or intratympanic steroid therapy.  

If the hearing loss does not respond to medical treatment, then there are certain types of hearing instruments, e.g., cros, bone oscillators, e.g., "Baha".  These instruments are effective in that  speech, and other sounds that occur on the "dead" side are delivered to the good ear.  Therefore, your friend would be able to hear sounds on both sides of his head.
He need not turn his head in order to understand a talker speaking to his "dead" side.

I hope this has been helpful to you.

Kindly rate this answer.


Dr. Reiter

Deafness/Hearing Impairment

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Levi A. Reiter, Ph.D.


I am a full Professor of Audiology at Hofstra University and also in private practice. I can answer questions regarding hearing loss, auditory diagnoses, hearing aids, assistive listening devices, deafness


I have been teaching audiology at Hofstra University for 33 years. I have been in private practice for 31 years. I do hearing assessments, auditory diagnostic tests which are physiological, e.g., ABR, OAEs, etc. I also have over 30 years experience in fitting, and dispensing hearing aids.

ASHA (American Speech-Language and Hearing Associaton AAA (American Academy of Audiology)

My articles have appeared in: Journal of Auditory Research J of Speech and Hearing Disorders J of Speech and Hearing Research The Hearing Journal J of the American Tinnitus Association The ASHA Leader Plus.......

I have a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester, and two post-doctoral fellowships from NIH and NICHD. I am Board Certified by the American Academy of Audiology, and hold a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association. I also have numerous professional publications in the field of Audiology.

Awards and Honors
Fellowship from the National Institute of Health Sciencess Fellowship from the National Institute of Child Development Scholarships from the U of Rochester, Connecticut College Faculty Development grants from Hofstra U. The Scholars Award from the American Academy of Audiology The ACE award from the American Speech & Hearing Association

Past/Present Clients
Not sure what this means. I see clients of all ages and from all parts of the world.

©2016 All rights reserved.