Objectives: Central auditory system development is thought to be dependent on normal auditory nerve excitation. Central auditory disorganization may differ between prelingual and postlingual deafness. One possible clinical manifestation of such central auditory disorganization is somatosensory perception with cochlear implant stimulation. The purpose of this study was to investigate the incidence and characteristics of somatosensory phenomena in prelingually and postlingually deafened adult cochlear implant subjects.
Study Design: The study design was a retrospective analysis.
Setting: The study was performed at an academic tertiary referral center.
Patients: This study included 32 adult multichannel cochlear implant recipients.
Main Outcome Measures: Subjective patient reporting of sensory perception after cochlear implant stimulation was reviewed
Results: All 10 prelingually deaf subjects noted somatosensory phenomena distant from the implanted ear (e.g., chest, abdomen) on implant stimulation. These sensations resolved gradually for all patients. No subject deafened after the age of 2 years reported somatosensory perceptions.
Conclusions: Somatosensory phenomena experienced by prelingually deafened adults suggest that disorganization of central auditory system pathways is more severe in these individuals. Earlier auditory deprivation appears to produce greater central auditory alterations, and perceptible crossover between somatosensory and auditory signals may be the end result.
© 1998, The American Journal of Otology, Inc.