Cochlear implantation versus auditory brainstem implantation in children with auditory nerve deficiencies

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2022 Mar;279(3):1295-1300. doi: 10.1007/s00405-021-06792-8. Epub 2021 Apr 18.


Background: Cochlear nerve deficiency is one of the known causes of congenital sensorineural hearing loss. Management of hearing loss in children with cochlear nerve deficiency poses a multidimensional challenge. The absent or hypoplastic cochlear nerve may prevent electrical stimulation from reaching the brainstem and the auditory cortex. A deficient cochlear nerve can be associated with other inner ear malformations, which may diminish the success of cochlear implantation in those children. Promising results in adults after auditory brainstem implantation led to the expansion of candidacy to include the pediatric populations who were contraindicated for CIs.

Objective: To review the outcomes of cochlear implantation versus that of auditory brainstem implantation in children with various conditions of the auditory nerve.

Methods: This retrospective chart review study comprised two pediatric groups. The first group consisted of seven ABI recipients with cochlear nerve aplasia and the second group consisted of another seven children with cochlear nerve deficiencies who underwent CI surgery. The participants' auditory skills and speech outcomes were assessed using different tests selected from the Evaluation of Auditory Responses to Speech (EARS) test battery.

Results: There were some individual variations in outcomes depending on the status of the auditory nerve. The mean CAP score of the ABI group was 2.87, while the mean SIR score was 0.62. On the other hand, the mean CAP score of the CI group was 1.29, while the mean SIR score was 0.42.

Conclusion: Our results are in good agreement with the reported auditory perception and speech and language development outcomes of pediatric auditory brainstem implantation. We added to the growing body of literature on the importance of verifying and identifying the status of the cochlear nerve in the decision-making process of the surgical management of those pediatric groups.

Keywords: Auditory brainstem implantation; Cochlear implantation; Cochlear nerve deficiency.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Brain Stem Implantation*
  • Child
  • Cochlear Implantation*
  • Cochlear Implants*
  • Cochlear Nerve / abnormalities
  • Cochlear Nerve / surgery
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Speech Perception* / physiology
  • Treatment Outcome