Steroids in aminoglycoside-containing ear drops: Do they reduce cochlear toxicity?


  • This research was funded by grants from the Department of Otolaryngology, University of Manitoba and the Manitoba Institute for Patient Safety.

  • The authors have no other funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.



To determine whether betamethasone (BM) reduces the cochlear toxicity of otic gentamicin (GM) if given together.

Study Design

Controlled animal study.


Thirty-four mice were assigned at random to receive intratympanic injections of either 0.1 % BM (11 mice), 0.3% GM (13 mice), or a combination of both (GM/BM) with benzalkonium chloride (10 mice) in the left ear (treated) and saline on the right (untreated). Six injections were given on alternate days. Auditory brainstem response thresholds were assessed at 1 month, 2 months, and >2 months.


There was a significantly greater degree of hearing loss in the BM-treated ears compared to the untreated ears (6.48 dB hearing loss, P = .007) and in the GM-treated ears compared to untreated ears (6.59 dB hearing loss, P = .010,). However, otic GM/BM and benzalkonium chloride did not cause significant additional hearing loss compared with the untreated ears (3.56 dB hearing loss, P = .242).


Our data suggest that hearing loss caused by GM otic drops may be reduced by the inclusion of BM and benzalkonium chloride. Our finding that BM alone was associated with hearing loss suggests that the benzalkonium chloride may be the protective agent in combination otic drops.

Level of Evidence

NA Laryngoscope, 124:1209–1213, 2014