If you were hearing your eyeballs move in your head as you looked from side to side, you might think you were going crazy.
For 27-year-old Rachel Pyne, it sounded like “like moving your hand in water.”
Many people with what’s actually a very real and very rare condition known as superior semicircular canal dehiscence do seek psychiatric help when they hear the sounds of their body beyond what’s considered normal.
“We not only believe them when they say they can hear their eyeballs or neck muscles move, but we can help them,” Dr. Isaac Yang, a neurosurgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a statement.
Dr. Quinton Gopen, an ear surgeon at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, explained in a news release from the university that SSCD is a “hole that develops between the inner ear and the brain.” Fluid that is supposed to be contained in this area then can be “displaced by sound and pressure,” resulting in a variety of symptoms, according to the Vestibular Disorder Association.
Before turning to the experts at UCLA, Pyne said she saw at least nine doctors from around the country, most of whom said what she was experiencing were the symptoms of migraine headaches. Pyne was having a hard time with balance, nausea and sleeping as well, and when one specialist told her it was something she would have to live with, the Indiana woman said that she was devastated.
When Yang and Gopen told her they could help put an end to the “chaos” in her head, she cried.
“Dr. Gopen diagnosed me within 15 minutes and said, ‘Absolutely we can do surgery.’ I was crying because I had been through so much,” Pyne said in a statement.
According to UCLA, the team has surgically treated more than 60 patients in the last five years with SSCD, which affects about one in every 500,000 people. But they more recently developed a technique that is less invasive.
“What we’re doing now is performing the entire operation in a hole the size of a dime,” Yang said, pointing out that previous surgeries for the condition involved a hole five times larger.
Here’s more on how it works:
Working in tandem, Yang opens the skull and lifts the brain away from the skull, which allows Gopen to access the space in between the ear and skull. Then Gopen pinpoints the tiny hole in the inner ear bone and plugs it with an artificial filler called bone wax. The entire procedure lasts roughly 90 minutes, and results are usually instantaneous.
When Pyne came out of surgery the swooshing noise of her eyeballs was gone.
Watch UCLA’s video:
This woman, who had a similar procedure on one side of her head and was waiting for the other side, talks about the relief she was already feeling:
Front page image via Shutterstock.