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Review: cochlear implants as a treatment of tinnitus in single-sided deafness

Arts, Remo A.G.J.; George, Erwin L.J.; Stokroos, Robert J.; Vermeire, Katrien

Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head & Neck Surgery: October 2012 - Volume 20 - Issue 5 - p 398–403
doi: 10.1097/MOO.0b013e3283577b66
HEARING SCIENCE AND VESTIBULAR MEDICINE: Edited by Rodney C. Diaz and Mohamed A. Hamid

Purpose of review: Tinnitus is a symptom that is highly associated with hearing loss. Its incidence is expected to increase due to the detrimental effects of occupational and leisure noise. Even though no standard treatment is currently available, the effect of cochlear implants on tinnitus in single-sided deafness (SSD) is under scientific attention. This review reveals an overview of all publicly available reports about cochlear implant as a treatment for tinnitus in SSD.

Recent findings: Cochlear implantation in SSD suppresses tinnitus in most of the cases. Some studies even demonstrate complete tinnitus suppression after implantation. No tinnitus worsening is reported in any of the cases. Furthermore, tinnitus does not restore during the electrical stimulation presented by the cochlear implant. The tinnitus level seems to stabilize after 3–6 months after the first fitting.

Summary: Although the underlying mechanism responsible for the observed tinnitus suppression is not yet clear, cochlear implantation should be considered as a treatment option for tinnitus arising from SSD. However, appropriate patient selection is essential as it is expected that it is a requirement that tinnitus arises from cochlear deafferentation.

Department of ENT/Head and Neck Surgery, Maastricht University Medical Centre, Maastricht, The Netherlands

Correspondence to Dr Remo A.G.J. Arts, Department of ENT/Head and Neck Surgery, Maastricht University Medical Centre, P. Debyelaan 25, PO Box 5800, 6202 AZ Maastricht, The Netherlands. Tel: +31 43 388 11 84; fax: +31 43 387 55 80; e-mail: remo.arts@mumc.nl

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.