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Rehabilitation for High-Frequency Sensorineural Hearing Impairment in Adults with the Symphonix Vibrant Soundbridge: A Comparative Study

Uziel, Alain*; Mondain, Michel*; Hagen, Paul*; Dejean, François; Doucet, Guilhem


Objective To assess and compare the benefits for patients with high-frequency hearing loss obtained from an implantable middle ear implant, the Symphonix Vibrant Soundbridge using the SIGNIA processing circuitry, to those derived from conventional amplification using the same integrated circuitry and to those derived from a variety of preoperatively worn hearing aids.

Study Design A single-subject, repeated-measures study design was used for a comparative evaluation of the benefits derived from the Symphonix Vibrant Soundbridge and conventional amplification. Objective audiometric measures were performed postoperatively to compare the Symphonix Vibrant Soundbridge (404) and SIGNIA hearing aid, both using the SIGNIA processing chip. Tests were performed under three conditions: unaided, aided Symphonix Vibrant Soundbridge (404), and aided SIGNIA hearing aid. Subjective self-assessment scales, standardized and nonstandardized, were completed for the Symphonix Vibrant Soundbridge (404) and the preoperative hearing aid to compare the personally perceived benefits. Statistical comparison of the data sets with each device type was performed using the nonparametric Wilcoxon test.

Setting One tertiary teaching hospital and one hearing aid specialist fitting office.

Subjects Six patients displaying a high-frequency hearing loss who had the Symphonix Vibrant Soundbridge implanted for an average of 17 months.

Intervention Rehabilitative.

Results Aided thresholds with the Symphonix Vibrant Soundbridge (404) and the SIGNIA hearing aid showed no significant difference. Speech comprehension scores in quiet and in noise were significantly improved with each device type over the unaided condition scores. Individual performance on speech test measures was equivalent or superior with the Symphonix Vibrant Soundbridge (404) in comparison with that with the SIGNIA hearing aid. When using the Symphonix Vibrant Soundbridge (404) in quiet, the group achieved 50% speech comprehension at significantly softer presentation levels (p = 0.027) than when wearing the SIGNIA hearing aid. Similarly, in noise, 50% speech comprehension was achieved at significantly lower (more difficult) signal-to-noise ratios (p = 0.028) with the Symphonix Vibrant Soundbridge (404) than with the SIGNIA hearing aid. The level of satisfaction for various aspects of the device and performance and listening ease, particularly in the presence of aversive sounds and in reverberant conditions, was reported as significantly better with the Symphonix Vibrant Soundbridge (404) than with the preoperative hearing aid.

Conclusions Despite similar gain with each device type using the same SIGNIA processing technology, the patient group demonstrated significant advantages for speech comprehension in quiet and in noise when using the Symphonix Vibrant Soundbridge (404). Such an effect may be attributed to higher fidelity sound transmission by means of the direct-drive mechanism used by the implant. Subjective reports support the results from the objective assessments, both being in favor of the implant over conventional amplification. In conclusion, the Symphonix Vibrant Soundbridge (404) is a suitable treatment option offering advantages over conventional amplification to the hearing-impaired person with a high-frequency hearing loss.

*Hôpital Guy de Chauliac and †Laboratoire d 'Audition des Arceaux, Montpellier, France

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Alain Uziel, Hôpital Guy de Chauliac, Service ORL, 2 Av Bertin Sans, 34295 Montpellier, Cedex, France; Email:

© 2003 Otology & Neurotology, Inc.