Blog - single sided deafness

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In a recent article, published in Otology & Neurotology, the authors looked at outcomes and device usage in adults who received a cochlear implant for single sided deafness (SSD). The FDA approved cochlear implants for patients with SSD in July of 2019. Interestingly, the FDA extended the approval to include both adults and children over 5 years of age – even though the application was only submitted for use in adults.

The authors reported on 53 adult patient who had undergone cochlear implantation for SSD. Amongst their findings were that CI has the ability to:

  • Improve or completely suppress tinnitus
  • 80% of patients reported improved or completely suppressed tinnitus
  • Achieve speech perception outcomes comparable to traditional CI candidates
  • Speech understanding improved from 8.7% to 54% at one year and 62% at 2 years
  • Understand speech in certain noisy environments

Single sided deafness is a major disability. Previously, the only options for hearing rehabilitation for SSD were CROS hearing aids or a bone conduction device. Both rely on the good ear to compensate for the non-hearing ear. Traditionally, CIs have been reserved for patients with hearing loss in both ears. There was concern that the sound perception from the CI (electrical stimulation) would be too different from the hearing in the normal hearing ear. As a result, patients would reject the CI due to the conflicting input. The first implants in SSD were done in an effort to reduce tinnitus, not necessarily to improve hearing. They found, however, that patients noted significant hearing benefit from the CI and had decreased tinnitus.

Now that the FDA has approved CI for SSD, more and more patients are being implanted. As a result, more studies are being done to explore exactly what benefit the CI provides in SSD.

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