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Cochlear signal alterations using pseudo-color perceptual enhancement for patients with sensorineural hearing loss



Neuroimaging detection of sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL)-related temporal bone abnormalities is limited (20–50%). We hypothesize that cochlear signal differences in gray-scale data may exceed the threshold of human eye detection. Gray-scale images can be post-processed to enhance perception of tonal difference using “pseudo-color” schemes.


To compare patients with unilateral SNHL to age-matched normal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams for “labyrinthine color differences” employing pseudo-color post-processing.

Materials and methods

The MRI database at an academic children’s hospital was queried for “hearing loss.” Only unilateral SNHL cases were analyzed. Sixty-nine imaging exams were reviewed. Thirteen age-matched normal MR exams in children without hearing loss were chosen for comparison. Pseudo-color was applied with post-processing assignment of specific hues to each gray-scale intensity value. Gray-scale and pseudo-color images were qualitatively evaluated for signal asymmetries by a board-certified neuroradiologist blinded to the side of SNHL.


Twenty-six SNHL (mean: 7.6±3 years) and 13 normal control exams (mean: 7.3±4 years) were included. All patients had normal gray-scale cochlear signal and all controls had symmetrical pseudo-color signal. However, pseudo-color images revealed occult asymmetries localizing to the SNHL ear with lower values in 38%. Ninety-one percent of these cases showed concordance between the side of pseudo-color positivity and the side of hearing loss.


Pseudo-color perceptual image enhancement reveals intra-labyrinthine fluid alterations on MR exams in children with unilateral SNHL. Pseudo-color image enhancement techniques improve detection of cochlear pathology and could have therapeutic implications.

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Correspondence to Matthew T. Whitehead.

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Whitehead, M.T., Guillot, L.M. & Reilly, B.K. Cochlear signal alterations using pseudo-color perceptual enhancement for patients with sensorineural hearing loss. Pediatr Radiol 51, 1448–1456 (2021).

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  • Children
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Perception
  • Pseudo-color
  • Sensorineural hearing loss