Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Pulsatile Tinnitus

If you’re experiencing a whooshing or thumping in your ears, you might be suffering from pulsatile tinnitus. Unlike other types of tinnitus that produce a ringing or buzzing sound, pulsatile tinnitus produces a rhythmic noise that matches your heartbeat. While this condition can be frustrating and disruptive to daily life, there are effective treatment options available, including minimally invasive procedures performed by interventional radiologists. These procedures can provide relief from your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

What Is Pulsatile Tinnitus?

Pulsatile tinnitus is a type of tinnitus that causes a rhythmic sound in the ears that seems to match your heartbeat. Unlike regular tinnitus, which is often the result of damage to the eardrums from overexposure to loud noises, this condition is caused by blood flow circulating in the arteries and veins near the ears that creates an audible noise. 

The main symptom of pulsatile tinnitus is being able to hear a steady sound in your ears that’s in sync with your heartbeat. Some people can even take their pulse while hearing it. However, you might also experience other symptoms as well, such as:

  • Whooshing or beating noise
  • Heart palpitations
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • A feeling of fullness in one or both ears

The symptoms of pulsatile tinnitus may come and go, or they may be constant. The rhythmic beating is often worse at night when there are fewer external noises to mask the noise. Many people with pulsatile tinnitus find the condition to be distracting and interfere with daily life.

What Is Pulsatile Tinnitus?

Education Center

Do you hear your heartbeat in your ears? It's a common condition that can be treated.
Treatments for Ringing in Your Ears
why choose VIP for Idiopathic intracranial hypertension

Learn More about
Pulsatile Tinnitus

Visit Our Youtube Channel

What Causes Pulsatile Tinnitus Symptoms?

Pulsatile tinnitus is often caused by circulation issues or problems with the blood vessels and surrounding tissues in the head and neck. Some common causes include high blood pressure and abnormal blood flow.

High blood pressure

When your blood pressure rises, it increases the force of the blood that pushes against the walls of your arteries. If your blood pressure is consistently high, your ears may be able to detect the more forceful blood flow.


A blockage in the arteries caused by a buildup of plaque and other waste materials can result in turbulent blood flow, which may be the cause of the rhythmic noise in your ears.

Head or neck tumors

Tumors in the head or neck can press on nearby blood vessels, leading to pulsatile tinnitus.

Turbulent blood flow

Narrowed veins or arteries in the neck can cause a change in blood flow to the head. Your ears may detect this irregular or turbulent circulation, resulting in pulsatile tinnitus.

Diagnosis and Treatment

To diagnose pulsatile tinnitus, your healthcare provider will first conduct a physical exam to determine if there is an underlying condition causing your pulsatile tinnitus symptoms. They will also review your medical history and use a stethoscope to listen to your head, neck, and chest.

If your doctor can also detect a pulsatile noise in sync with your heartbeat, you have what’s called objective pulsatile tinnitus. If they cannot, it's known as subjective pulsatile tinnitus.

After the initial exam, your provider may recommend further tests, such as an audiological evaluation or imaging tests. An audiological evaluation can help determine if there is any hearing loss present and if the tinnitus is related to hearing loss. Imaging tests can help detect any structural abnormalities or vascular issues causing your pulsatile tinnitus.

The treatment for pulsatile tinnitus depends on the underlying cause of the condition. In some cases, it may be possible to alleviate your symptoms by lowering your blood pressure with medication and lifestyle changes. If pulsatile tinnitus is caused by a specific problem with the veins or arteries, a minimally invasive procedure may be used to improve blood flow.

How We Treat Pulsatile Tinnitus

How We Treat Pulsatile Tinnitus

Pulsatile tinnitus can be treated surgically using minimally invasive interventional radiology techniques. This approach is often used when the underlying cause of the condition is a vascular issue and other treatment options haven’t worked to alleviate your symptoms.

At Vascular & Interventional Partners, we address the underlying cause of pulsatile tinnitus by improving blood flow in the affected veins or arteries. Treatment involves inserting a small catheter into a blood vessel through a small incision in the skin, then guiding it to the affected area using real-time imaging such as fluoroscopy or ultrasound.

Once the catheter is in place, our interventional radiologists can use a variety of techniques to alleviate your symptoms. One option is coil embolization, which involves filling the abnormal blood vessel with small metal coils to prevent blood from flowing through it. Another option is using a stent to open the blood vessel instead. This may be necessary if the underlying issue is a narrowing or blockage of a blood vessel.

Interventional radiology treatments for pulsatile tinnitus are minimally invasive and performed on an outpatient basis. Patients typically experience little discomfort and you’ll be able to resume your normal activities within a day or two.

Benefits of Minimally Invasive Pulsatile Tinnitus Procedures

If you've tried other treatments to resolve your pulsatile tinnitus with no success, addressing the underlying cause of your symptoms with coil embolization, stent placement, and other minimally invasive procedures offers many benefits, such as:

  • Can reduce or completely eliminate the thumping or ‘whooshing’ sound in your ears
  • Procedures are performed on an outpatient basis
  • Advanced imaging can target the exact location of the problem
  • Little to no downtime or recovery
  • Coil embolization and stenting are safe with few side effects

Why Choose Vascular & Interventional Partners?

At Vascular & Interventional Partners, we pride ourselves on our patient-centered approach to care, utilizing the latest minimally invasive techniques and technologies available to provide effective and personalized treatment options. Our team of interventional radiologists is highly trained and experienced in the treatment of pulsatile tinnitus, with a deep understanding of the underlying medical conditions that can cause the condition.

If you're struggling with pulsatile tinnitus and looking for an effective treatment option, we can help. Contact or call us at 480-435-9100 to schedule an appointment with Arizona’s leading interventional radiologists and find relief from your symptoms today.

Schedule A Consultation