The multichannel auditory brainstem implant (ABI) provides the potential for hearing restoration in patients with neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2). Programmes for auditory brainstem implantation have been established in two Australian centres. Eight patients have been implanted under the protocol of an international multi-centre clinical trial. Three patients had ABI insertion at the time of first side tumour removal, four at second side tumour removal and one after previous bilateral surgery where there was some residual tumour. The translabyrinthine approach was used in all cases. Successful positioning of the electrode array was achieved in seven of eight patients, all of whom achieved auditory perception with electrical stimulation. Intra-operative electrically evoked auditory brainstem response testing was successful in four patients and was useful in confirming correct electrode position. In six cases postoperative psychophysical and auditory perception testing demonstrated that useful auditory sensations were achieved. Five of these patients regularly used the implant. In one patient electrode placement was unsuccessful and only non-auditory sensations occurred on stimulation. In the remaining patients nonauditory sensations were minimal and avoidable by selective electrode programming. Auditory brainstem implantation should be considered in patients with NF2. The greatest benefit is seen in patients without debilitating disease who have non-aidable hearing in the contralateral ear.
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