Objectives—Cochlear implantation has been suggested to be associated with an air-bone gap, possibly secondary to increased middle- and inner-ear stiffness. To explore the effect of possible changes in mechanics due to cochlear implantation, we measured wideband tympanometry (WBT) in individuals with normal hearing and individuals with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss who underwent unilateral or bilateral cochlear implantation. Our goal was to characterize differences in WBT patterns associated with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss and with cochlear implantation. Design—The study participants were 24 individuals with normal hearing (48 ears) and 17 with cochlear implants, of which 15 were unilaterally implanted and two were implanted bilaterally. All the participants had normal otoscopy. In the implanted group, inner-ear anatomy was normal according to preoperative imaging. All participants underwent pure-tone audiometric assessment, standard tympanometry (226 Hz probe tone), and WBT to a click stimulus (analyzed from 226 to 8000 Hz). WBT was recorded at ambient and peak pressures. To elucidate the effect of sensorineural hearing loss on WBT, we compared normal-hearing ears with impaired non-implanted ears. The impact of cochlear implantation was assessed by comparing the WBT of the implanted and non-implanted ears of the same participants. Moreover, the effect of the ear (right vs. left) and test–retest reproducibility were evaluated. Results—WBT results for right and left ears showed no statistically significant differences in the normal hearing participants. There were no statistical differences shown between repeated measurements of WBT with removal and re-insertion of the probe in any of the groups—the normal ears, the implanted ears, and the non-implanted ears with hearing impairment. Peak compensated admittance (Ytm) in standard tympanometry was normal in 32 out of 34 (94%) ears with sensorineural hearing loss, with one CI user having bilateral negative middle-ear pressure. Compared to normal-hearing ears, ears with severe to profound SNHL, with or without cochlear implantation, showed a significant decrease in absorbance at high frequencies (4000–5000 Hz). Implanted ears, compared both to normal-hearing and contralateral-non-implanted ears, showed a significant decrease in absorbance at low frequencies (400–800 Hz) and an increase in absorbance around 1600 Hz. Conclusions—WBT analysis revealed that the implanted ears showed a significant decrease in absorbance at low frequencies (400–800 Hz) and an increase at 1600 Hz. This finding is likely a result of an increased stiffness due to the implantation surgery and the presence of the implant in the inner ear. In contrast, the specific decrease in absorbance around 4000–5000 Hz in the implanted and non-implanted ears compared to the normal ears is likely either due to aging or the impact of the severe-to-profound SNHL on the input impedance of the cochlea. The structural and functional changes of both the conductive system and the cochlea associated with aging and SNHL may change the wideband acoustic immittance of the ear and these alterations might be correlated with the hearing loss severity. Additional research is needed to determine how much hearing loss and age influence wideband acoustic immittance of the ear.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.
- cochlear implantation
- sensory neural hearing loss
- standard tympanometry
- wideband tympanometry
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science (all)
- Engineering (all)
- Process Chemistry and Technology
- Computer Science Applications
- Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes