Speech Performance and Sound Localization Abilities in Neurelec Digisonic® SP Binaural Cochlear Implant Users

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In this prospective study the outcome of the Digisonic® SP Binaural cochlear implant (CI), a device enabling electric stimulation of both cochleae by a single receiver, was evaluated in 14 postlingually deafened adults after 12 months of use. Speech perception was tested using French disyllabic words in quiet and in speech-shaped noise at +10 dB signal-to-noise ratio. Horizontal sound localization in quiet was tested using pink noise coming from 5 loudspeakers, from –90 to +90° along the azimuth. Speech scores in quiet were 76% (±19.5 SD) in the bilateral condition, 62% (±24 SD) for the better ear alone and 43.5% (±27 SD) for the poorer ear alone. Speech scores in noise were 60% (±27.5 SD), 46% (±28 SD) and 28% (±25 SD), respectively, in the same conditions. Statistical analysis showed a significant advantage of the bilateral use in quiet and in noise (p < 0.05 compared to the better ear). Significant spatial perception benefits such as summation effect (p < 0.05), head shadow effect (p < 0.0001) and squelch effect (p < 0.0005) were noted. Sound localization accuracy improved significantly when using the device in the bilateral condition with an average root mean square of 35°. Compared with published outcomes of usual bilateral cochlear implantation, this device could be a valuable alternative to two CIs. Prospective controlled trials, comparing the Digisonic SP Binaural CI with a standard bilateral cochlear implantation are mandatory to evaluate their respective advantages and cost-effectiveness.

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