Benefits of Short Interimplant Delays in Children Receiving Bilateral Cochlear Implants

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Abstract

Objectives:

To examine speech perception skills in quiet and noise in children using bilateral cochlear implants and to assess the influence of duration of bilateral deafness and interimplant delay.

Study Design:

Prospective repeated measures.

Setting:

Tertiary academic referral center.

Methods:

Speech perception was assessed in 58 children with early-onset deafness; 51 received their first implant after less than 3 years of bilateral deafness and their second implant simultaneously or after a long (>2 yr) or short (6-12 mo) interimplant delay. Another seven children had longer periods of bilateral deafness (>3 yr) before the first implant and received their second after a long (>2 yr) interimplant delay. Mean (standard deviation) of bilateral implant use was 12.5 (7.9) months ranging from 6 to 36 months. Repeated measures in quiet were completed in three quiet and two noise (no spatial separation) conditions. In quiet, children listened with their right implant alone, left implant alone, and with both implants. In noise, children wore one implant in the experienced (or right for simultaneous group) ear and both implants.

Results:

Speech perception scores were poorer in noise than in quiet, but significant improvements were found when bilateral rather than unilateral implants were worn. Improvements were greatest for children who were implanted with a short duration of bilateral deafness and a limited interimplant interval.

Conclusion:

Benefits of bilateral implantation in the short term are clearest in children with limited delays between implantation.

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