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Keywords:

  • Tinnitus;
  • cochlear implant;
  • tinnitus suppression;
  • Level of Evidence: 2c.

Abstract

Objectives/Hypothesis:

Cochlear implantation is now the standard of care in patients with significant sensorineural hearing loss. It is well known that patients with severe hearing loss also experience disabling tinnitus. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of cochlear implants on the perception of tinnitus using the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI).

Study Design:

Prospective, longitudinal study of 142 cochlear implant patients.

Methods:

The THI was administered to 142 patients pre- and postimplantation. Outcome measures were obtained 12 months after the implantation. Secondary analyses to examine the correlation between changes in THI scores and outcome measures such as Hearing Handicap Inventory, Hearing in Noise Test (HINT), and short-form 36 (SF-36) quality-of-life scores were performed.

Results:

Patients demonstrated statistically significant reduction of the THI scores including its subscales (P < .001). Prior to implantation, 37% of patients described their tinnitus as moderate to severe. Postoperatively, this percentage decreased to 10%. Cochlear implantation resulted in complete tinnitus suppression in 37% and tinnitus reduction in another 29% of patients. THI scores significantly correlated with three domains of the SF-36 quality-of-life questionnaire, namely social, emotional, and general health domains.

Conclusions:

Cochlear implants have a significant suppressive effect on tinnitus in 66% of implant users. Although the reduction in the subjectively perceived tinnitus was statistically significant, it did not correlate with HINT; however, it did correlate with three quality-of-life domains, more significantly for those whose pretreatment conditions were moderate or worse.