Cochlear implantation in prelingually deaf children with white matter lesions



White matter lesions (WMLs) are the most common central nervous system changes observed during cochlear implant evaluation. However, its clinical significance in cochlear implantation (CI) remains unclear. The purpose of this study is to explore the effects of WMLs on hearing and speech rehabilitation of prelingually deaf children after CI.


The data of forty-five children with WMLs who received CI from 2011 to 2014 were retrospectively reviewed. All patients underwent magnetic resonance imaging examination preoperatively. The categories of auditory performance (CAP) and speech intelligibility rating (SIR) scales were used to evaluate changes in the auditory and speech abilities of the patients, and the Fazekas scale was adopted to assess the extent of WMLs. The degree of WMLs was divided into four grades (none, mild, moderate, severe). We assessed hearing and speech abilities at the following time points: 6, 12, 24, 36, 48 and 60-months post-operation.


No significant differences in CAP scores were observed between WMLs groups and the control group at 12 months post-CI (p = 0.099), but marked between-group differences were found at 6, 24, 48- and 60-months post-CI. (p < 0.05). Similarly, no significant differences in the SIR scores were observed at 6 months post-CI (p = 0.087), but marked between-group differences were found at 12, 24, 48- and 60- months post-CI. (p < 0.05). Analysis of stratified group results revealed improvements in hearing and speech development for all the subgroups, including the severe WMLs subgroup following CI. However, hearing and speech ability of the severe WMLs subgroup was much slower than that of other groups.


The auditory and speech abilities of prelingually deaf children with WMLs and those without WMLs can improve after CI. Therefore, WMLs should not be considered a contraindication for CI. However, the decision to perform CI in such patients needs a comprehensive evaluation because the post-surgery effects on children with severe WMLs are not ideal.

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This study was supported by funding from the project of the Anhui Provincial Education Department and Boston scientific (No.9021082201).

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Correspondence to Jianxin Qiu or Kun Yao.

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All authors have read and approved the manuscript and have no conflict of interest of this paper.

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Approval for this study was obtained from the local ethics committee of The First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University, Hefei, Anhui, P.R. China. Written informed consent of both parents to the patients was obtained before the study. All data were collected and analyzed retrospectively.

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Chen, S., Zheng, W., Li, H. et al. Cochlear implantation in prelingually deaf children with white matter lesions. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol 278, 323–329 (2021).

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  • Cochlear implantation
  • White matter lesions
  • Children
  • Sensorineural hearing loss
  • Speech rehabilitation