Decline of Low-Frequency Hearing in People With Ski-Slope Hearing Loss; Implications for Electrode Array Insertion

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Abstract

Hypothesis:

The decline of low-frequency hearing in people with ski-slope hearing loss varies and might depend on etiology.

Background:

People with ski-sloping hearing loss might benefit from cochlear implantation with preservation of residual hearing. To reduce the risk of losing low-frequency hearing after implantation, the electrode-array can be inserted partially up to the desired frequency. That, however, obstructs electrical stimulation of lower frequencies. To decide between complete or partial insertion, knowledge regarding the natural decline of low-frequency hearing is helpful.

Methods:

Patients with at least two ski-slope audiograms over time were selected. We calculated progression at lower frequencies for 320 patients. Etiologies for hearing loss were retrieved from medical records. Progression of hearing loss was analyzed separately for patients with uni- and bilateral hearing losses. Relative progression of hearing loss was obtained by comparing progression to a reference group.

Results:

Average progression of PTA was 1.73 dB/yr and was not significantly different in the bilateral and unilateral group. Etiologies that did not show significantly more progression compared with the reference group could be identified as single or short-lasting pathologic events, whereas long-lasting conditions had significant more progression of PTA.

Conclusion:

Patients with a ski-slope hearing loss that was caused by a single or short-lasting event have low progression rate and are viable for partial insertion to minimize the risk of damaging residual low-frequency hearing. In the absence of such an event, complete insertion should be considered because faster than normal deterioration of low-frequency hearing over time will probably limit the advantage of preservation of residual hearing.

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