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      Influence of Postponed Follow-Up after Cochlear Implant Activation during the COVID-19 Pandemic on Aided Sound Field Detection and Speech Recognition


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          The objective of this study was to assess the influence of postponing the first post-activation follow-up due to the COVID-19 pandemic on the aided sound field detection thresholds and speech recognition of cochlear implant (CI) users.


          A retrospective review was performed at a tertiary referral center. Two groups of adult CI recipients were evaluated: (1) patients whose first post-activation follow-up was postponed due to COVID-19 closures (postponed group; n = 10) and (2) a control group that attended recommended post-activation follow-ups prior to the COVID-19 pandemic (control group; n = 18). For both groups, electric thresholds were estimated at initial activation based on comfort levels and were measured behaviorally at subsequent post-activation follow-ups. For the control group, behavioral thresholds were measured at the 1-month follow-up. For the postponed group, behavioral thresholds were not measured until 3 months post-activation since the 1-month follow-up was postponed. The aided pure-tone average (PTA) and word recognition results were compared between groups at the 3-month follow-up and at an interim visit 2–9 weeks later.


          At the 3-month follow-up, the postponed group had significantly poorer word recognition (23 vs. 42%, p = 0.027) and aided PTA (42 vs. 37 dB HL, p = 0.041) than the control group. No significant differences were observed between 3-month data from the control group and interim data from the postponed group.


          The postponed follow-up after CI activation was associated with poorer outcomes, both in terms of speech recognition and aided audibility. However, these detrimental effects were reversed following provision of an individualized map, with behaviorally measured electric threshold and comfort levels. While adult CI recipients demonstrate an improvement in speech recognition with estimated electric thresholds, the present results suggest that behavioral mapping within the initial weeks of device use may support optimal outcomes.

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          Most cited references29

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          Revised CNC lists for auditory tests.

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            Recognition of speech presented at soft to loud levels by adult cochlear implant recipients of three cochlear implant systems.

            The purpose of this study was to conduct a large-scale investigation with adult recipients of the Clarion, Med-El, and Nucleus cochlear implant systems to (1) determine average scores and ranges of performance for word and sentence stimuli presented at three intensity levels (70, 60, and 50 dB SPL); (2) provide information on the variability of scores for each subject by obtaining test-retest measures for all test conditions; and (3) further evaluate the potential use of lower speech presentation levels (i.e., 60 and/or 50 dB SPL) in cochlear implant candidacy assessment. Seventy-eight adult cochlear implant recipients, 26 with each of the three cochlear implant systems, participated in the study. To ensure that the data collected reflect the range of performance of adult recipients using recent technology for the three implant systems (Clarion HiFocus I or II, Med-El Combi 40+, Nucleus 24M or 24R), a composite range and distribution of consonant-nucleus-consonant (CNC) monosyllabic word scores was determined. Subjects using each device were selected to closely represent this range and distribution of CNC performance. During test sessions, subjects were administered the Hearing in Noise Test (HINT) sentence test and the CNC word test at three presentation levels (70, 60, and 50 dB SPL). HINT sentences also were administered at 60 dB SPL with a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of +8 dB. Warble tones were used to determine sound-field threshold levels from 250 to 4000 Hz. Test-retest measures were obtained for each of the speech recognition tests as well as for warble-tone sound-field thresholds. Cochlear implant recipients using the Clarion, Med-El, or Nucleus devices performed on average equally as well at 60 compared with 70 dB SPL when listening for words and sentences. Additionally, subjects had substantial open-set speech perception performance at the softer level of 50 dB SPL for the same stimuli; however, subjects' ability to understand speech was poorer when listening in noise to signals of greater intensity (60 dB SPL + 8 SNR) than when listening to signals presented at a soft presentation level (50 dB SPL) in quiet. A significant correlation was found between sound-field thresholds and speech recognition scores for presentation levels below 70 dB SPL. The results demonstrated a high test-retest reliability with cochlear implant users for these presentation levels and stimuli. Average sound-field thresholds were between 24 and 29 dB HL for frequencies of 250 to 4000 Hz, and results across sessions were essentially the same. Speech perception measures used with cochlear implant candidates and recipients should reflect the listening challenges that individuals encounter in natural communication situations. These data provide the basis for recommending new candidacy criteria based on speech recognition tests presented at 60 and/or 50 dB SPL, intensity levels that reflect real-life listening, rather than 70 dB SPL.
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              The relationship between EAP and EABR thresholds and levels used to program the nucleus 24 speech processor: data from adults.

              The objective of this study was to determine the relationship between electrically evoked whole nerve action potential (EAP) and electrical auditory brain stem response (EABR) thresholds and MAP threshold (T-level) and maximum comfort level (C-level) for subjects who use the Nucleus 24 cochlear implant system. Forty-four adult Nucleus 24 cochlear implant users participated in this study. EAP thresholds were recorded using the Neural Response Telemetry System developed by Cochlear Corporation. EABR thresholds were measured for a subset of 14 subjects using standard evoked potential techniques. These physiologic thresholds were collected on a set of five electrodes spaced across the cochlea, and were then compared with behavioral measures of T-level and C-level used to program the speech processor. EAP thresholds were correlated with MAP T- and C-levels; however, the correlation was not strong. A technique for improving the correlation by combining measures of T- and C-levels made on one electrode with the EAP thresholds was presented. Correlations between predicted and measured T- and C-levels using this technique were 0.83 and 0.77, respectively. Similar results were obtained using the EABR thresholds for a smaller set of subjects. In general, EABR thresholds were recorded at levels that were approximately 4.7 programming units lower than EAP thresholds. Either EAP or EABR thresholds can be used in combination with a limited amount of behavioral information to predict MAP T- and C-levels with reasonable accuracy.

                Author and article information

                Audiol Neurootol
                Audiol Neurootol
                Audiology & Neurotology
                S. Karger AG (Allschwilerstrasse 10, P.O. Box · Postfach · Case postale, CH–4009, Basel, Switzerland · Schweiz · Suisse, Phone: +41 61 306 11 11, Fax: +41 61 306 12 34, karger@karger.com )
                22 November 2021
                22 November 2021
                : 1-8
                [1] aDepartment of Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
                [2] bDepartment of Audiology, UNC Health Care, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
                Author notes
                Copyright © 2021 by S. Karger AG, Basel

                This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic or until permissions are revoked in writing. Upon expiration of these permissions, PMC is granted a perpetual license to make this article available via PMC and Europe PMC, consistent with existing copyright protections.

                : 8 March 2021
                : 20 September 2021
                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 1, References: 28, Pages: 8
                Research Article

                electric threshold,mapping,electric-acoustic stimulation,clinical protocol
                electric threshold, mapping, electric-acoustic stimulation, clinical protocol


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