Background: The diagnosis of perilymphatic fistula (PLF) is often difficult, and therefore the condition can be overlooked. Tympanoscopy presents an alternative procedure for visualising the middle ear anatomy, and it may help to diagnose PLF. Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of middle ear endoscopy in establishing the diagnosis of PLF and in defining its incidence in patients with sensorineural hearing loss and/or vertigo and tinnitus. Subjects and Methods: Two hundred and sixty-five patients (22–80 years of age, mean 48 years) were prospectively and consecutively referred for middle ear examination with tympanoscopy. Tympanoscopy was performed using endoscopes with visual angles of 5 and 25° and an outer diameter of 1.7 mm. The round window niche (with its secondary membrane), the oval window with a stapes superstructure, a part of the facial recess and the area in the fissula ante fenestram were examined and video-recorded. Results: For 1 patient, tympanoscopy revealed fistula in the round window membrane that was covered with a fibrinous layer. In 4 cases abnormal mucosal shining appeared in the round window, but no PLF was present. In 7 cases the tympanic cavity could not be visualised because of the adhesive tympanic membrane, abnormal anatomy or the prominent exostoses of the external ear canal. In 6 cases a postendoscopic middle ear infection was found. No permanent tympanic membrane perforation occurred in any of the patients in this study. Conclusions: Tympanoscopy is a rapid examination tool with which to verify certain areas of the middle ear anatomy, but it is of limited value for ruling out the presence of PLF.
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