Background: Concerns have been expressed with regard to suitability for cochlear implantation of children deafened by cytomegalovirus because of possible coexisting central disorders/learning difficulties. The aim of the current study was to assess speech perception and intelligibility of speech produced by children deafened by cytomegalovirus and compare their progress with that of congenitally deaf children after cochlear implantation.
Methods: The study assessed 16 implanted children who were deafened by cytomegalovirus, using the Iowa Closed Sentence Test and Speech Intelligibility Rating. The results were compared with those of a group of 131 children who had undergone implantation who were congenitally deaf but did not have cytomegalovirus as the cause of deafness. The mean age at implantation was 3.9 years for the cytomegalovirus group (median, 3.5 years) and 4.1 years (median, 4 years) for the congenitally deaf children. They all received the Nucleus multichannel cochlear implant system. The follow-up period ranged from 1 to 5 years after implantation for both groups.
Results: After cochlear implantation, the intelligibility of speech produced by children deafened by cytomegalovirus had a wide range, varying from unintelligible speech to connected speech intelligible to all listeners. Relative to the median score for the control group at the last evaluation interval, 3 of the 16 children with cytomegalovirus (19%) performed better, 8 children (50%) performed more poorly, and 5 (31%) performed the same. The difference between the two groups was not statistically significant (p > 0.05). With regard to speech perception Iowa Sentence Test (Level B), relative to the median score for the control group at the last evaluation interval, 5 of the 16 children with cytomegalovirus (31%) performed better, 3 children (19%) performed more poorly, and 8 (50%) performed the same. The difference between the two groups was not statistically significant (p > 0.05). With regard to Level A and relative to the median score for the control group at the last evaluation interval, 1 of the 16 children with cytomegalovirus (6%) performed better, 6 children (38%) performed more poorly, and 9 (56%) performed the same. The difference between the two groups was statistically significant (p = 0.04).
Conclusion: The results of the current study showed that cytomegalovirus alone, as a cause of deafness, is not a contraindication for cochlear implantation. Parents should be informed about the wide range of linguistic outcomes after implantation and that these children may need more specific or intensive rehabilitation. Although additional problems are common and outcomes may, on average, be poorer, cochlear implantation can provide useful auditory input to these children. Further research is needed to identify factors associated with cytomegalovirus that may influence the outcomes.
*Nottingham Pediatric Cochlear Implant Programme, Nottingham, U.K., and †Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Athens University, Ippokration Hospital, Athens, Greece
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