Tinnitus and cochlear implants
Available online 1 July 2010.
ObjectiveSeveral published studies seem to confirm the clinical observation that cochlear implants (CI) have a suppressive effect on tinnitus in most CI users. The aim of this paper is to present our personal experiences on tinnitus improvement after cochlear implantation.
MethodsBefore surgery, 51 post-lingually profoundly deaf adults, who underwent cochlear implantation between 2005 and 2007, filled out a questionnaire reporting tinnitus characteristics and the Italian version of the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI-I).
Moreover, they were asked to scale tinnitus loudness and annoyance.
Six months after implant activation, patients repeated the same evaluations.
Scores were statistically analysed by means of a Wilcoxon signed ranks test on the hypothesis that a CI could change the tinnitus magnitude and/or its annoyance.
ResultsIn our series of 36 patients, 36.10% reported total loudness suppression and another 41.6% reported a reduction. Annoyance scores reduced in 75% of patients. THI reduced in 72.2% of patients.
ConclusionTinnitus reduction after CI may manifest as several mechanisms, such as habituation, acoustic masking, direct electrical nerve stimulation and cortical reorganization.
Nevertheless, it is our opinion that data on CI benefits on tinnitus should be interpreted with caution and it seems reasonable to admit that further data is still necessary before considering CI as a treatment of tinnitus especially in unilateral deafness.
Keywords: Tinnitus; Cochlear implant; Hearing loss