Hospital Facebook Post Provides Solution for Tinnitus



For an entire year, Gitty Butbul (29) from Migdal HaEmek, went from specialist to specialist – cardiologists, ENT experts and alternative practitioners as well. Butbul, a Law student at Bar-Ilan University, woke up one morning with tinnitus – an annoying sound in his left ear, and no-one had a solution. "It was a constant murmur, like the pulse you hear on an ultrasound… a waterfall. It was there all the time, driving me crazy."

At one stage they checked for a possible brain tumor. Another suspicion was multiple sclerosis. One doctor gave him a prescription for anticoagulant drugs on the assumption it was a cardiological problem. ENT doctors gave him steroids and he was even referred to a psychiatrist, but the tinnitus persisted and made his life a misery.

"I had to sit in class with an earphone in my left ear, through which I would hear sounds like rain and the sea, while with my other ear I was making a huge effort to listen to what the lecturer was saying. I studied for exams while in great pain; I cried at nights because I was only able to fall asleep after drinking alcohol. I was a wreck. I couldn't even be distracted because this 'alarm' accompanied me wherever I went."

The turning point came when a friend saw a post on Shaare Zedek's Facebook page, about someone coping with a similar issue, and the writer mentioned that the patient was treated by Dr. Ya'akov Amsalem, Brain Catheterization specialist at Shaare Zedek. Butbul immediately contacted him. Dr. Amsalem looked at the imaging tests and saw an abnormal conglomeration of blood cells in the brain, close to the ear.

"I saw excess blood cells behind the inner ear," explained Dr. Amsalem. "And because they were very close to the hearing bones that's what was causing the noises and beeps." Dr. Amsalem conducted a diagnostic catheterization – inserting a catheter via the groin all the way up to the neck and brain – after which he confirmed it was indeed abnormal blood cells. He decided to anesthetize Butbul and shut out the blood vessels by injecting some biological glue.

"This is a very rare incident and difficult to diagnose. It is often missed and so patients continue to suffer and hear these noises."

Butbul was overjoyed. "I've been born again! Now I can hear the silence and breathe in the stillness. My life is back to normal. No more tinnitus. I thank God, the Invasive Neuro-Radiology Unit at Shaare Zedek and of course Dr. Ya'akov Amsalem."