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Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2001 Aug 20;60(2):99-111.

Hearing habilitation with auditory brainstem implantation in two children with cochlear nerve aplasia.

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ENT Department, Clinica ORL, University of Verona, Ospedale Policlinico G.B. Rossi, Piazzale L.A. Scuro, 10, I-37134 Verona, Italy.


Patients with aplasia and hypoplasia of the cochlear nerve have no chance of having their hearing restored by stimulating the periphery of the auditory system using the traditional cochlear implant. A possible approach to auditory rehabilitation may be direct electrical stimulation of the cochlear nuclei with an auditory brainstem implant (ABI). Recently, two children, aged 4 and 3 years, respectively, with bilateral severe cochlear malformations and cochlear nerve aplasia received an ABI. The present paper reports the technique and the preliminary results of this experience. The classic retrosigmoid approach was used. The correct position of the electrodes was estimated with the aid of EABRs and neural response telemetry (NRT). No postoperative complications were observed. High-resolution CT scans with a bone algorithm reconstruction technique were taken postoperatively to evaluate electrode placement before discharge. The ABI was activated 30 days after implantation in both patients. To date 16 and 13 electrodes, respectively, have been activated in the two children. Three months after activation the first patient had achieved good environmental sound awareness, good speech detection and some speech discrimination. The second child, 1 month after activation, had achieved good environmental sound awareness and moderate speech detection. To the best of our knowledge this is the first report of patients with hypoplasia of the cochlea and aplasia of the cochlear nerve, aged below 5 years and treated with an ABI.

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