Rehabilitation of hearing and communication functions in patients with NF2

Acta Neurochir Suppl. 2002:79:109-11. doi: 10.1007/978-3-7091-6105-0_24.


Most patients with neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) lose hearing either spontaneously or after removal of their neurofibromas. The patient may benefit from conventional hearing aids if, due to modern microsurgery and intraoperative monitoring the integrity of the cochlea and the 8th nerve is preserved. With lost auditory function but preserved electrical stimulibility of the 8th nerve a cochlear implant may be appropriate. But if the patients have no remaining 8th nerve to stimulate, there is no benefit from cochlear implants. Until some years ago, vibrotactile aids, lip-reading, and sign language have been the only communication modes available to these patients. With auditory brain stem implants it is now possible to bypass both the cochlea and the 8th nerve and to stimulate the cochlear nucleus directly. Stimulation of the devices produces useful auditory sensations in almost all patients. Testing of perceptual performance indicated significant benefit from the device for communication purposes, including sound-only sentence recognition scores and the ability to converse on the telephone. Also lip-reading is significantly improved with brain stem implants. The successful work of an auditory brainstem program center depends very much on the close interdisciplinary collaboration between the Departments of Neurosurgery and ENT-surgery. In the future new developments like speech processing strategies and new designed electrodes accessing the complex tonotopic organization of the cochlear nucleus may further improve rehabilitation in these patients who would have been deaf some years ago.

MeSH terms

  • Auditory Pathways / surgery
  • Brain Stem / surgery
  • Communication*
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / instrumentation
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods
  • Hearing*
  • Humans
  • Neurofibromatosis 2 / physiopathology
  • Neurofibromatosis 2 / psychology
  • Neurofibromatosis 2 / rehabilitation*
  • Prostheses and Implants