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To analyse the correlation between visual fixation suppression test results and the occurrence of post-operative vertigo in patients receiving a cochlear implant, and to compare this with other possible risk factors.
In a prospective study setting, caloric vestibular responses, visual fixation suppression and subjective vertigo symptoms were assessed in 59 adult patients undergoing cochlear implantation. These parameters were compared in patients with post-operative vertigo versus vertigo-free patients.
Vertigo symptoms were reported by 49 per cent of patients. Thirty-nine per cent of the patients had a decrease in caloric response on the implanted side. There was no statistically significant difference between the two patient groups regarding canal paresis, age, sex, implanted electrode type, implant side, surgeon, cause of deafness, petrous bone computed tomography findings and incidence of pre-operative vertigo. Patients with post-operative vertigo had a significantly greater prevalence of insufficient visual fixation suppression. All patients who suffered long-term post-operative vertigo had insufficient visual fixation suppression.
Pre-operative impaired visual fixation suppression is a major risk factor for the occurrence of vertigo after cochlear implantation.
To assess the incidence of vestibular disturbance in patients after cochlear implantation, and to evaluate the quality of vertigo symptoms.
Prospective, observational study.
Cochlear implant centre at a tertiary referral university hospital, Munich, Germany.
Forty-seven adult patients undergoing unilateral cochlear implantation between 2003 and 2007.
Patients were interviewed post-operatively about vertigo symptoms, using a specifically designed questionnaire. Questionnaire data were used to define patient subgroups based on probable vertigo aetiology. Cochlear implantation was performed via a retroauricular, transmastoidal approach. Thirty-six implants were Cochlear Nucleus 24 devices and 11 were MedEl devices.
Twenty-one (45 per cent) patients reported vertigo symptoms following cochlear implantation. The time of onset was directly post-operatively in the majority of patients. In 90 per cent, the symptoms suggested an otogenic origin. The majority of patients reported paroxysmal vertigo with a duration of seconds to minutes. Typical concomitant symptoms were tinnitus, fluctuating hearing loss and vegetative reactions. Serious disablement by vertigo was rare.
Exposing patients to the risk of possible balance disorders associated with cochlear implantation is justified in view of the hearing rehabilitation achieved, even with today's broader indications for cochlear implantation. However, patients should in any case be informed about the possibility and quality of post-operative vertigo symptoms.
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