Evaluate whether the difference between word recognition score (WRS) obtained unaided under earphone and with a hearing aid (HA), the speech perception gap (SPgap), is predictive of performance with a totally implantable active middle ear implant (AMEI).
Retrospective review of systematically collected data.
Private otologic practice.
One hundred thirty six ears (133 patients) with sensorineural hearing loss implanted with an AMEI. Subjects were 73.5% men, with mean age = 61.3 years.
Main Outcome Measures:
WRS with earphone at phonetically balanced maximum (PB-MAX), and with HA and AMEI at 50 dB HL. Differences between earphone, HA and AMEI word recognition, grouped as positive or negative speech perception gap (+SPgap/–SPgap) between two devices.
A +SPgap (WRS poorer with device than earphone) occurred in 86.0% of patients with HA and 42.3% with the AMEI. Mean SPgap = 24.7% with HA and 3.0% with AMEI (p ≤ 0.001). With a HA +SPgap, AMEI performance was better than HA by an average difference of 23.2% WRS, with AMEI more than HA in 82.9% of subjects. With HA –SPgap, the mean difference was 1.1% correct and AMEI more than HA in 47.4% of subjects (p ≤ 0.001 and p ≤ 0.002, for mean difference and percent of subjects, respectively). The larger the +SPgap (earphone-HA), the greater the advantage of AMEI over HA (r = 0.62, p ≤ 0.001).
A speech perception gap between earphone PB-MAX and aided word recognition score suggests a patient may have better speech perception with an AMEI than with his/her hearing aid. This information is useful for counseling patients who are not performing well or are unsatisfied with their hearing aid.