OBJECTIVES: To determine whether significant differences in cochlear implant (CI) performance exist between older and younger CI recipients.
DESIGN: Retrospective comparison of audiometric data.
SETTING: University hospital center.
PARTICIPANTS: Sixty participants who received CIs at age 70 and older and 48 younger adults implanted between age 18 and 69.
MEASUREMENTS: Speech outcome scores (Consonant-Nucleus-Consonant words and phonemes and City University of New York Sentence test in quiet and noise).
RESULTS: Older participants show significant improvement in speech perception scores after implantation. Although on average they do not perform as well as younger adults, this difference correlates with duration of deafness rather than age. In contrast to younger adults, significant differences in CI performance are seen in older recipients depending on the side of implantation, with those implanted on the right performing better than those implanted on the left.
CONCLUSION: Postlingually deafened older adults obtained significant speech perception benefits from CIs, although differences in speech outcomes were seen between younger recipients and those implanted after age 70. In older adults considering CIs, hearing benefits appear greater if they are implanted in the right ear.