Residual Hair Cell Responses in Electric-Acoustic Stimulation Cochlear Implant Users with Complete Loss of Acoustic Hearing After Implantation


Changes in cochlear implant (CI) design and surgical techniques have enabled the preservation of residual acoustic hearing in the implanted ear. While most Nucleus Hybrid L24 CI users retain significant acoustic hearing years after surgery, 6–17 % experience a complete loss of acoustic hearing (Roland et al. Laryngoscope. 126(1):175-81. (2016), Laryngoscope. 128(8):1939-1945 (2018); Scheperle et al. Hear Res. 350:45-57 (2017)). Electrocochleography (ECoG) enables non-invasive monitoring of peripheral auditory function and may provide insight into the pathophysiology of hearing loss. The ECoG response is evoked using an acoustic stimulus and includes contributions from the hair cells (cochlear microphonic—CM) as well as the auditory nerve (auditory nerve neurophonic—ANN). Seven Hybrid L24 CI users with complete loss of residual hearing months after surgery underwent ECoG measures before and after loss of hearing. While significant reductions in CMs were evident after hearing loss, all participants had measurable CMs despite having no measurable acoustic hearing. None retained measurable ANNs. Given histological data suggesting stable hair cell and neural counts after hearing loss (e.g., Quesnel et al. Hear Res. 333:225-234. (2016)), the loss of ECoG and audiometric hearing may reflect reduced synaptic input. This is consistent with the theory that residual CM responses coupled with little to no ANN responses reflect a “disconnect” between hair cells and auditory nerve fibers (Fontenot et al. Ear Hear. 40(3):577-591. 2019). This “disconnection” may prevent proper encoding of auditory stimulation at higher auditory pathways, leading to a lack of audiometric responses, even in the presence of viable cochlear hair cells.

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National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders P50 DC 00242 (PI: Gantz)

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Correspondence to Viral D. Tejani.

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BJG is a consultant for Cochlear Ltd. MRH is co-founder and Chief Medical Officer for iotaMotion, Inc. VDT is a consultant for iotaMotion, Inc. All other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Tejani, V.D., Kim, JS., Oleson, J.J. et al. Residual Hair Cell Responses in Electric-Acoustic Stimulation Cochlear Implant Users with Complete Loss of Acoustic Hearing After Implantation. JARO (2021).

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  • electrocochleography
  • hearing preservation
  • electric-acoustic stimulation
  • hybrid
  • cochlear microphonic
  • auditory nerve neurophonic