Pediatric Auditory Brainstem Implant Users Compared With Cochlear Implant Users With Additional Disabilities

Otol Neurotol. 2019 Aug;40(7):936-945. doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000002306.


Objectives: To evaluate long-term language development in children with prelingual deafness who received auditory brainstem implants (ABIs) compared with children who received cochlear implants (CIs) at the same hospital. Additional non-auditory disabilities were taken into account.

Study design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting: Tertiary referral center.

Patients: Ten children with bilateral malformations of the cochlea and/or cochlear nerve who received ABIs, including seven with additional disabilities, and 147 children with CIs as a reference group, including 22 children with additional disabilities.

Intervention: ABIs were implanted at 1.3 to 6.2 years of age. Follow-up ranged from 1.1 to 7.7 years.

Main outcome measures: Receptive and expressive language abilities were assessed using the Infant Toddler Meaningful Auditory Integration Scale (IT-MAIS), the Categories of Auditory Performance (CAP), the Meaningful Use of Speech Scale (MUSS), and the Speech Intelligibility Rate (SIR).

Results: Of the 10 children with ABIs, seven had long-term follow-up data. Within 1 year, six of the seven children with ABIs could identify sounds, respond to speech, and use their voice to attract attention. Language skills developed at a slower rate than in children with CIs and reached the same competence level when additional disabilities were absent. These language skills matched, on average, those of children with CIs with additional disabilities.

Conclusion: For deaf children with bilateral inner ear malformations, ABIs provide satisfactory auditory input. Children with ABIs are able to develop receptive and expressive language skills comparable to those of children with CIs with additional disabilities. Using this knowledge, preoperative parent counselling can be refined.

MeSH terms

  • Auditory Brain Stem Implants*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cochlea / surgery*
  • Cochlear Implantation
  • Cochlear Implants*
  • Cochlear Nerve / abnormalities
  • Deafness / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Language Development*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Speech Intelligibility / physiology*
  • Speech Perception / physiology
  • Treatment Outcome