Objectives: The objectives of this study were to demonstrate the safety of auditory brainstem implant (ABI) surgery and document the subsequent development of auditory and spoken language skills in children without neurofibromatosis type II (NFII).
Design: A prospective, single-subject observational study of ABI in children without NFII was undertaken at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Five children were enrolled under an investigational device exemption sponsored by the investigators. Over 3 years, patient demographics, medical/surgical findings, complications, device mapping, electrophysiologic measures, audiologic outcomes, and speech and language measures were collected.
Results: Five children without NFII have received ABIs to date without permanent medical sequelae, although 2 children required treatment after surgery for temporary complications. All children wear their device daily, and the benefits of sound awareness have developed slowly. Intra-and postoperative electrophysiologic measures augmented surgical placement and device programming. The slow development of audition skills precipitated limited changes in speech production but had little impact on growth in spoken language.
Conclusions: ABI surgery is safe in young children without NFII. Benefits from device use develop slowly and include sound awareness and the use of pattern and timing aspects of sound. These skills may augment progress in speech production but progress in language development is dependent upon visual communication. Further monitoring of this cohort is needed to better delineate the benefits of this intervention in this patient population.
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