Alexandria, Va. - Three studies published in the May 2008 edition of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery reveal substantial new findings in several areas of hearing health, including research that indicates that patients with profound hearing loss benefit substantially from having cochlear implants placed in both ears, rather than one, as is the common practice.
The studies are being released in conjunction with Better Hearing and Speech Month, observed each May to promote awareness for hearing and speech ailments that affect more than 20 million Americans. Otolaryngologists are the only physicians medically trained to treat issues related to hearing health.
The cochlear implant study, authored by researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine, is the first of its kind, and indicates that two implants not only substantially improve various areas of hearing and quality of life for recipients, but they are more cost-effective to implant than one.
This research should produce more opportunities for unilateral cochlear implant users to receive a second implant, said Brad Bichey, MD, MPH, the studys lead author. This should lead to improved function in a hearing world as well as improved speech perception, speech development, and communication.
A second study released in the journal shows that the presence of allergic rhinitis and adenoiditis are significant factors in increasing the risk of a child contracting ear infections where fluid collects in the middle ear space (otitis media with effusion).
Another study discusses the safety of single-stage implantation of bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHA) in children. Currently, adults receive the implantation in one stage, while children receive the surgery in two stages. But according to a study by researchers at the Manhattan Ear, Nose, and Throat Hospital in New York City, performing the surgery in a single stage on a child is not only safe, but more efficient. Furthermore, adopting the single-stage technique provides earlier hearing recovery.