Objective: To investigate the efficacy of a perioperative oral steroid taper on low-frequency hearing preservation after cochlear implantation.
Study design: Retrospective case series.
Setting: Tertiary referral center.
Patients: Consecutive cochlear implant recipients between January 2012 and December 2014 who were candidates for a hearing preservation approach based on preoperative pure tone thresholds were identified.
Interventions: A subgroup of patients received a 2-week oral corticosteroid taper beginning 3 days before surgery. All patients were implanted using standard length electrodes.
Main outcome measures: The preservation of low-frequency pure tone thresholds on the first postoperative audiogram was assessed. Secondary outcome measures included the respective impacts of age, diabetes, and electrode array type on hearing preservation, the durability of hearing preservation over time, and the development of medical complications related to steroid use.
Results: Twenty-seven ears met inclusion criterion, and the mean age at implantation was 49.8 years (median 62 yr, range 2-81 yr). Twenty patients (74.1%, mean age 48.7 yr) received an oral corticosteroid taper, whereas 7 (25.9%, mean age 53.1 yr) did not. The rate (p < 0.01) and degree (p < 0.01) of hearing preservation as measured at implant activation was greater for patients who received an oral steroid taper than those who did not. There were no medical complications related to steroid use.
Conclusion: A 2-week oral prednisone taper beginning before surgery may positively affect the incidence and degree of low-frequency hearing preservation after cochlear implantation.