Cochlear implants are less beneficial for older adults as compared to younger patients who have similar levels of hearing impairment before surgery, according to a report.
The study has been published in the May issue of Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Cochlear implants have become an accepted treatment for adults with age-related hearing loss or the progression of early-onset hearing loss, according to background information in the article.
David R. Friedland, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, studied the medical records of patients who received cochlear implants at age 65 or older between 1999 and 2008. Each of 28 older patients was matched to a younger patient (receiving an implant at ages 18 to 64) with similar pre-implantation hearing test scores.
One year after implantation, 55 of the 56 total patients showed improvement on hearing testing. Regardless of their age at implantation, higher test scores before surgery predicted higher test scores afterward. However, the older patients performed more poorly than younger patients on some speech perception tests at the one-year follow-up.
"One explanation for these results is that the elderly patient may have a prolonged adaptation phase and reach levels attained by younger users at one-year postimplantation at a later point," the authors write. "Alternatively, elderly patients may have inherent limitations in processing the high-rate stimulation paradigms used in current cochlear implants. Central cognitive or associative processes may also influence the performance in the population of elderly patients."