One-Year Results for Patients with Unilateral Hearing Loss and Accompanying Severe Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Treated with a Cochlear Implant

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Abstract

Objective: To show that patients with unilateral hearing loss (UHL), with one ear fulfilling cochlear implant (CI) indication criteria, and an additional severe tinnitus handicap can be treated effectively with a CI. Method: A prospective multi-centre study was conducted in five Spanish centres. Sixteen adult patients with UHL and a mean Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) score of at least 58 were implanted. The study design included repeated within-subject measures of quality of life (Health Utility Index Mark 3 [HUI3]), tinnitus (THI, Visual Analogue Scale [VAS] on tinnitus loudness), hearing (Speech, Spatial, and Qualities of Hearing Scale– [SSQ]), and hyperacusis (Test de Hipersensibilidad al Sonido [THS]) up to 12 months after the initial CI fitting. Results: Group data showed significant subjective benefit from CI treatment: the preoperative HUI3 total utility score of 0.45 went up to 0.57 at 6 months and 0.63 at 12 months; the preoperative THI total score of 75 decreased to 40 at 6 months and 35 at 12 months. The preoperative tinnitus loudness VAS score of 8.2 decreased to 2.4 at 6 months and 2.2 at 12 months with the implant “On” and to 6.7 at 6 months and 6.5 at 12 months with the implant “Off.” The preoperative THS total score of 26 decreased to 17 at 12 months. The preoperative SSQ total score of 4.2 increased to 5.1 at 6 months and 6.3 at 12 months. No unanticipated adverse events were reported during the study period. At 12 months after CI activation all subjects (except 1 subject who used the device 6 days a week) wore their devices all day and every day. The primary reason for CI use was split evenly between tinnitus suppression (n = 6) and both hearing and tinnitus (n = 6). Conclusion: A CI should be considered as a treatment option in patients with UHL and a concomitant severe tinnitus handicap. However, appropriate counselling of candidates on the anticipated risks, benefits, and limitations that are inherent to cochlear implantation is imperative.

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