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Cochlear implantation in unique pediatric populations

Hang, Anna X.; Kim, Grace G.; Zdanski, Carlton J.

Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery: December 2012 - Volume 20 - Issue 6 - p 507–517
doi: 10.1097/MOO.0b013e328359eea4

Purpose of review Over the last decade, the selection criteria for cochlear implantation have expanded to include children with special auditory, otologic, and medical problems. Included within this expanded group of candidates are those children with auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder, cochleovestibular malformations, cochlear nerve deficiency, associated syndromes, as well as multiple medical and developmental disorders. Definitive indications for cochlear implantation in these unique pediatric populations are in evolution. This review will provide an overview of managing and habilitating hearing loss within these populations with specific focus on cochlear implantation as a treatment option.

Recent findings Cochlear implants have been successfully implanted in children within unique populations with variable results. Evaluation for cochlear implant candidacy includes the core components of a full medical, audiologic, and speech and language evaluations. When considering candidacy in these children, additional aspects to consider include disorder-specific surgical considerations and child/caregiver counseling regarding reasonable postimplantation outcome expectations.

Summary Cochlear implants are accepted as the standard of care for improving hearing and speech development in children with severe-to-profound hearing loss. However, children with sensorineural hearing loss who meet established audiologic criteria for cochlear implantation may have unique audiologic, medical, and anatomic characteristics that necessitate special consideration regarding cochlear implantation candidacy and outcome. Individualized preoperative candidacy and counseling, surgical evaluation, and reasonable postoperative outcome expectations should be taken into account in the management of these children.

Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, University of North Carolina Hospitals, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

Correspondence to Carlton J. Zdanski, MD, Associate Professor, Chief, Pediatric Otolaryngology, Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, University of North Carolina, 170 Manning Drive, CB 7070, Physician's Office Building, Room G-190, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7070, USA. Tel: +1 919 966 3342; fax: +1 919 966 7941; e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.