June 2020 Physicians Weekly

Tinnitus is a common symptom of severe hearing loss or deafness especially in older people. Hearing rehabilitation for these patients is usually only possible with a cochlear implant (CI). In recent years, an increasing number of old and very old patients have been treated with a CI. The aim of this study was to examine the influence of hearing rehabilitation with a CI on the tinnitus of older people.

In this prospective study 34 patients between the age of 65 and 86 were included, who were unilaterally treated with a CI for the first time. 16 patients (47.1 %) had tinnitus preoperatively. At three time points (preoperative, on initial fitting and six months postoperatively), tinnitus severity was assessed in addition to speech discrimination in patients with tinnitus using the mini-tinnitus questionnaire (Mini-TF12).

Six month postoperatively we found a highly significant improvement of speech discrimination (preoperatively 11.5 ± 17.4, six-month visit 54.4 ± 28.1 %, p = 0.001) that was accompanied by a highly significant reduction in tinnitus severity according to Mini-TF12 scores (preoperatively 6.9 ± 6.5, six-month visit 4.3 ± 3.3, p = 0.001).

Hearing rehabilitation by means of CI leads to a highly significant reduction of tinnitus severity of pre-operatively existing tinnitus in the elderly.

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