Evaluation of Maximal Speech Intelligibility With Vibrant Soundbridge in Patients With Sensorineural Hearing Loss

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Objective:The study investigated improvements in maximal speech intelligibility after Vibrant Soundbridge (VSB) implantation and analyzed the effect of the hearing loss pattern on maximal speech intelligibility represented by a phonetically balanced word score (PBmax). The effect of middle ear implants on PBmax has not been evaluated yet.Study Design:Study.Setting:Tertiary academic medical center.Patients/Interventions:Sixty patients who underwent VSB from December 2011 to January 2016 were retrospectively reviewed. All the patients had hearing aids preoperatively.Main Outcome Measures:Pure-tone and speech audiometry were checked with and without hearing aids and then with the VSB. The patients were divided into two groups: flat and down-sloping type of hearing loss. PBmax score was evaluated at the most comfortable listening level before and after VSB implantation and compared with scores with/without HA.Results:PBmax for both conventional HA and VSB were significantly higher compared with the unaided condition. The improvement in speech recognition was significantly better using VSB than using HA (p = 0.003). However, there was no significant difference in the improvement provided by VSB and HA in patients with a flat hearing loss. Patients with a down-sloping audiogram showed significantly better improvement with VSB than with HA (p = 0.003). Moreover, patients with greater preoperative high-frequency hearing loss had greater improvement in PBmax after VSB implantation.Conclusion:Speech intelligibility can be significantly improved by VSB implantation, especially in patients with a down-sloping hearing loss. This finding can help select patients who will benefit most from VSB implantation.

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