The Impact of Comorbidities in the Aging Population on Cochlear Implant Outcomes

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Cochlear implants have been used for many years for bilateral profound hearing loss. General longevity has continued to increase and, therefore, the age at which cochlear implants are placed has concomitantly increased. Our purpose is to determine whether outcomes and complications are significantly different in the elderly.

Study Design:

Retrospective, clinical review.


Tertiary referral center, primarily ambulatory setting.


One hundred and one patients with moderate-to-profound hearing loss who ranged in age from 18 to 89 years. Subjects were divided into younger (<69, n = 51) and older (>70, n = 50) groups for analysis.


All patients received either a unilateral or bilateral multichannel cochlear implant. The change in hearing in noise testing and AZBio testing between pre and postimplantation was evaluated in each group.

Main Outcome Measures:

Primary outcome measures include preimplant and postimplant hearing in noise test (HINT) and/or AZBio speech perception testing. Preimplant HINT/AZBio was compared with postimplant HINT/AZBio for each patient and between the two groups. In addition, we reviewed the comorbidities between the two groups as well as complication rates between less than 70 and more than 70 group.


Both the younger and the older group demonstrated a significant improvement in postimplant HINT and/or AZBio scores. No statistically significant difference was noted in precochlear implant HINT/AZBio testing (p = 0.65/p = 0.48) between the two groups or the postimplant HINT/AZBio testing (p = 0.19/p = 0.22) between the two groups. Although, more than 70 yo group had significantly more comorbidities, the complication rates between the groups were insignificant. There was no shown association of specific comorbidities to complications between the two groups.


Both older and younger patients can receive a significant improvement in speech perception with cochlear implantation. Older patients tend to have more comorbidities compared with the younger patients, however, the complication rates are not higher in this population.

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