Objective and Subjective Measures of Simultaneous vs Sequential Bilateral Cochlear Implants in Adults: A Randomized Clinical Trial

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Abstract

Importance

To date, no randomized clinical trial on the comparison between simultaneous and sequential bilateral cochlear implants (BiCIs) has been performed.

Objective

To investigate the hearing capabilities and the self-reported benefits of simultaneous BiCIs compared with those of sequential BiCIs.

Design, Setting, and Participants

A multicenter randomized clinical trial was conducted between January 12, 2010, and September 2, 2012, at 5 tertiary referral centers among 40 participants eligible for BiCIs. Main inclusion criteria were postlingual severe to profound hearing loss, age 18 to 70 years, and a maximum duration of 10 years without hearing aid use in both ears. Data analysis was conducted from May 24 to June 12, 2016.

Interventions

The simultaneous BiCI group received 2 cochlear implants during 1 surgical procedure. The sequential BiCI group received 2 cochlear implants with an interval of 2 years between implants.

Main Outcomes and Measures

First, the results 1 year after receiving simultaneous BiCIs were compared with the results 1 year after receiving sequential BiCIs. Second, the results of 3 years of follow-up for both groups were compared separately. The primary outcome measure was speech intelligibility in noise from straight ahead. Secondary outcome measures were speech intelligibility in noise from spatially separated sources, speech intelligibility in silence, localization capabilities, and self-reported benefits assessed with various hearing and quality of life questionnaires.

Results

Nineteen participants were randomized to receive simultaneous BiCIs (11 women and 8 men; median age, 52 years [interquartile range, 36-63 years]), and another 19 participants were randomized to undergo sequential BiCIs (8 women and 11 men; median age, 54 years [interquartile range, 43-64 years]). Three patients did not receive a second cochlear implant and were unavailable for follow-up. Comparable results were found 1 year after simultaneous or sequential BiCIs for speech intelligibility in noise from straight ahead (difference, 0.9 dB [95% CI, –3.1 to 4.4 dB]) and all secondary outcome measures except for localization with a 30° angle between loudspeakers (difference, –10% [95% CI, –20.1% to 0.0%]). In the sequential BiCI group, all participants performed significantly better after the BiCIs on speech intelligibility in noise from spatially separated sources and on all localization tests, which was consistent with most of the participants’ self-reported hearing capabilities. Speech intelligibility-in-noise results improved in the simultaneous BiCI group up to 3 years following the BiCIs.

Conclusions and Relevance

This study shows comparable objective and subjective hearing results 1 year after receiving simultaneous BiCIs and sequential BiCIs with an interval of 2 years between implants. It also shows a significant benefit of sequential BiCIs over a unilateral cochlear implant. Until 3 years after receiving simultaneous BiCIs, speech intelligibility in noise significantly improved compared with previous years.

Trial Registration

trialregister.nl Identifier: NTR1722

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