The study investigated improvements in maximal speech intelligibility after Vibrant Soundbridge (VSB) implantation and analyzed the effect of the hearing loss pattern on maximal speech intelligibility represented by a phonetically balanced word score (PBmax). The effect of middle ear implants on PBmax has not been evaluated yet.
Tertiary academic medical center.
Sixty patients who underwent VSB from December 2011 to January 2016 were retrospectively reviewed. All the patients had hearing aids preoperatively.
Main Outcome Measures:
Pure-tone and speech audiometry were checked with and without hearing aids and then with the VSB. The patients were divided into two groups: flat and down-sloping type of hearing loss. PBmax score was evaluated at the most comfortable listening level before and after VSB implantation and compared with scores with/without HA.
PBmax for both conventional HA and VSB were significantly higher compared with the unaided condition. The improvement in speech recognition was significantly better using VSB than using HA (p = 0.003). However, there was no significant difference in the improvement provided by VSB and HA in patients with a flat hearing loss. Patients with a down-sloping audiogram showed significantly better improvement with VSB than with HA (p = 0.003). Moreover, patients with greater preoperative high-frequency hearing loss had greater improvement in PBmax after VSB implantation.
Speech intelligibility can be significantly improved by VSB implantation, especially in patients with a down-sloping hearing loss. This finding can help select patients who will benefit most from VSB implantation.