Second Cochlear Implant Surgery Improves Quality of Life in Children

Quality of Life and Sequential Bilateral Cochlear Implantation in Children

CHICAGO – Receipt of cochlear implants in separate, sequential surgeries appears associated with some improvement in quality of life among children, according to a report published online by the Archives of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Marloes Sparreboom, M.A., Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and colleagues write in their study background that it is important to gather information about quality of life because many studies focus on the outcomes in speech perception and sound localization and results collected in clinical settings do not always represent everyday situations. Most studies in children indicate that speech perception in noise and sound localization are better with bilateral cochlear implants compared with one.

This study included 30 children with prelingual deafness (deafness before a child can speak) who underwent sequential bilateral cochlear implantation. The mean (average) age at first implant was 1.8 years and the mean age at second implant was 5.3 years. Nine children with a unilateral (in one ear) cochlear implant also were included. Parents completed generic and disease-specific questionnaires.

Quality of life was assessed before the second implant surgery and after 12 and 24 months of using two implants. Disease-specific questionnaires indicated that unlike the children with a unilateral implant, quality of life measures continued to improve with longer durations of bilateral implant use. The age at second implantation had no influence on the gain in quality of life, researchers state.

Researchers also note they found “no significant gain” in generic quality of life measures associated with sequential bilateral cochlear implantation, but they explain those results.

“Gains in QoL [quality of life] following bilateral cochlear implantation will predominantly be seen in more disease-specific questionnaires that contain items regarding bilateral hearing. Gains in QoL continued to improve with longer duration of BiCI [bilateral cochlear implant] use,” the authors write. “Because generic questionnaires are insensitive to changes in hearing status, gains in QoL as measured by these questionnaires after sequential bilateral cochlear implantation in children may be underestimated.”

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