Original Research

Impact of drug-resistant tuberculosis treatment on hearing function in South African adults: Bedaquiline versus kanamycin

Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Marina Prodromos
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 68, No 1 | a784 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v68i1.784 | © 2021 Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Marina Prodromos | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 June 2020 | Published: 26 January 2021

About the author(s)

Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Marina Prodromos, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Ototoxicity linked to medications used to treat tuberculosis (TB) remains a global challenge.

Objectives: The aim was to describe the audiological function in a group of adults with drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) on bedaquiline (G-BDQ) treatment attending a TB hospital in South Africa and compare this with patients on kanamycin (G-KCIN).

Methods: A quantitative paradigm was adopted within a non-experimental retrospective record review design. The sample consisted of 30 records of adults with DR-TB between the ages of 18 and 50 years, recruited from a Tropical Diseases Hospital in South Africa. Data were analysed through both descriptive and inferential statistical measures.

Results: Clear and statistically significant differences in the audiological function were found between the two groups. The group receiving G-KCIN presented with ototoxicity that was clearly demonstrated by sensorineural hearing loss of high-frequency worsening of thresholds in over 73% of the records, which was statistically (p < 0.05) and clinically significant, over the three testing sessions, demonstrating the cumulative effects of dosage. Increased evidence of tinnitus was also found in this group. The group receiving G-BDQ presented with neither statistically (p > 0.05) nor clinically significant changes in hearing thresholds across all frequencies over the same monitoring timeframe. Additionally, only one report (7%) of tinnitus was found in this group.

Conclusion: The results indicating that bedaquiline does not cause hearing loss when compared with G-KCIN highlight the need for increased availability of bedaquiline for the treatment of DR-TB within the South African context, to preserve both the quantity and quality of life of those infected.


Bedaquiline; drug resistant tuberculosis; hearing; Kanamycin; monitoring; ototoxicity


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