OBJECTIVE: This study was designed to test the hypothesis that partial hearing conservation is attainable after cochlear implantation with a long perimodiolar electrode. Surgical strategies for hearing conservation during cochlear implantation are described. STUDY DESIGN: Prospective, single-subject, repeated-measures design. SETTING: Academic tertiary care center. PATIENTS: Twenty-eight severely to profoundly hearing-impaired adult cochlear implant recipients who had some measurable hearing preoperatively. INTERVENTION: Cochlear implantation using Nucleus Freedom Contour Advance electrode. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Preimplant and postimplant pure-tone thresholds and speech recognition scores were obtained to determine the incidence and degree of conserved hearing at a mean interval of 9 (+/-3.9) months. RESULTS: Thirty-two percent of subjects experienced complete conservation of hearing (0- to 10-dB loss), and 57% experienced partial conservation of hearing (>11 dB) after implantation. However, open-set speech recognition was partially conserved in only one subject. Cochlear implant performance was not better in patients with conservation of residual hearing. CONCLUSION: Conservation of pure-tone hearing was possible in 89% of implanted patients; however, residual speech perception was not conserved with this long perimodiolar electrode. A ceiling effect tends to inflate the prevalence of hearing conservation in implantation studies of severely to profoundly hearing-impaired patients.
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