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:
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.