Hearing Preservation Outcomes for 139 Cochlear Implant Recipients Using a Thin Straight Electrode Array

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Abstract

Objective:

To assess the hearing preservation outcomes in a large group of adult cochlear implant recipients implanted with a thin straight electrode array using atraumatic surgical techniques. Factors affecting hearing preservation will be investigated.

Study Design:

Prospective cohort study undertaken at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne, Australia from December 2010 to May 2015.

Setting:

Tertiary academic hospital.

Patients:

One hundred thirty-nine adults undergoing cochlear implantation (CI).

Main Outcome Measure:

Primary outcome measure of interest was pre and postoperative pure-tone audiometry.

Results:

Median low-frequency hearing change for the whole group of 139 recipients was −22.5 dB at the 3 months postop point. Eighty-six participants had functional preoperative low-frequency hearing (≤70 dB average at 250 and 500 Hz). Of these, 90.7% retained measureable hearing at 3 months postimplant. 39.5% of this original 86 participants retained functional hearing at 3 months postimplant. At 12 months postimplant, those who retained functional hearing at 3 months had no significant change in hearing. The group who lost functional hearing continued to have a significant deterioration in low-frequency hearing. Degree of hearing loss preimplant was identified as a predictor for the preservation of hearing postoperatively.

Conclusion:

Preservation of hearing is possible following atraumatic cochlear implant surgery with a thin straight electrode array. The amount of hearing preserved seems to be variable, and factors related to this variability are not yet known. The results of the present study suggest preoperative low-frequency hearing at or better than 45 dB may be related to preservation of functional hearing.

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