Evolving Trends in Cochlear Implantation: A Critical Look at the Older Population

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Abstract

Objectives/Hypothesis:

Cochlear implantation (CI) is a well-accepted surgical option for the treatment of moderate to profound deafness. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the temporal and geographic trends of this procedure nationwide in the Medicare population in an attempt to explore the impact of evolving technologies and changes in healthcare policy.

Methods:

Medicare Part B national summary procedural datasets from 2007 to 2016 were obtained. Current Procedural Terminology codes for CI as well as auditory osseointegrated implantation were obtained. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) datasets were evaluated to determine temporal trends. For geographic trends, specific carrier datasets from 2007 and 2016 were used.

Results:

From 2007 through 2016, the number of CI procedures increased annually from 1603 to 3600 (124.6%). Other procedures to treat hearing loss including bone-anchored implantation exhibited comparatively modest increases (23%, 90%). CI procedures increased every year in contrast to bone-anchored implants. Controlling for Medicare population, the greatest number of CI procedures performed per capita in the United States was in the West North Central, with an average 1.05 CIs per 10,000 beneficiaries.

Conclusion:

The number of CI procedures performed in the elderly population has increased markedly over the past 10 years, far outpacing growth in other hearing surgeries. Potential reasons may relate to changes in criteria for CI candidacy over the past decade, although significant regional variability demonstrated suggests a lack of consensus. Further studies would be necessary to ascertain the true reason for geographic disparities.

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