Cochlear Implant Surgery and the Risk of Falls in an Adult Population

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Abstract

Objective:

To determine the effect of cochlear implant surgery on the balance and risk of falls in an adult patient population using a mobile posturograph.

Design:

Prospective clinical pilot study.

Setting:

Cochlear implant center at a tertiary referral hospital.

Subjects and Methods:

Twenty adult patients undergoing cochlear implant surgery were tested using a mobile posturograph (VertiGuard). The standard balancing deficit test, or the geriatric standard balancing deficit test protocol (for patients older than 60 yr), was performed both 1 day before and 3 to 5 days after surgery.

Outcome Measures:

The risk of falls (%) was calculated from the body sway both forward-to-backward and side-to-side in degrees per second.

Results:

The mean preoperative risk of falls in the whole study population was 51% (24–max. 86%) and was thus already higher than that in a normal healthy population (norm 0–40%). Comparison of the postoperative risk of falls to the preoperative risk for all 20 patients revealed a mean increased risk of falls of 1.25% after CI surgery. This is not a statistically significant increase. There was also no statistically significant increase when comparing the fall risk calculated using either the standard balancing deficit test protocol or the geriatric standard balancing deficit test protocol alone.

Conclusion:

Postural control in cochlear implant candidates is already decreased before surgery compared with a healthy population. However Comparison of pre- and postoperative body sway measurements did not reveal a significant increase in fall risk as a result of cochlea implant surgery. Therefore in this study population, cochlear implant surgery did not influence balance and risk of falls. Further testing with a larger study population would be necessary to determine the development of falls risk over time after cochlear implant surgery.

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