gms | German Medical Science

83rd Annual Meeting of the German Society of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, Head and Neck Surgery

German Society of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, Head and Neck Surgery

16.05. - 20.05.2012, Mainz

Vestibular function disorders after cochlear implantation

Meeting Abstract

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German Society of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, Head and Neck Surgery. 83rd Annual Meeting of the German Society of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, Head and Neck Surgery. Mainz, 16.-20.05.2012. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2012. Doc12hno42

doi: 10.3205/12hno42, urn:nbn:de:0183-12hno427

Published: July 23, 2012

© 2012 Louza et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Introduction: The cochlea and the vestibular organ are anatomically and functionally very closely related. Therefore interventions in the inner ear, like the cochlear implantation (CI), can affect the vestibular function. Histological studies have shown changes primary in the otolith organs. Objective of this study was to investigate the vestibular function after implantation regarding horizontal semi-circular canal function and otolith organ function.

Material and Methods: Between 2006 and 2011 seventy one adult candidates for cochlear implantation were included in this prospective clinical study. The average age was 55 years (SD 19 years) and 55% were male, 45% female. Almost half of the patients were implanted on the right side (56%). Patients underwent vestibular function tests pre- and postoperatively including caloric irrigation of the horizontal semi-circular canal, vestibular-evoked myogenic potentials and subjective visual vertical.

Results: The analysis of the vestibular function tests showed a significant deterioration after CI mainly in the horizontal semi-circular response and in the sacculus function. 55% of the patients with preoperative normal (n=29) semi-circular function showed a decrease or a loss after implantation. Almost half of the patients (44%, n=28) with regular preoperative vestibular-evoked myogenic responses developed a new total loss of saccular function. In the utricular function we found a new side difference on the implanted side in 3 of 15 patients with preoperative regular function (n=17).

Conclusions: As the vestibular function tests showed, cochlear implantation has a relevant effect on peripheral vestibular function. Mainly saccular function and the semi-circular horizontal canal are affected. The utricular function tests are still limited for significant results. However no direct correlation to the risk of postoperative vertigo could be established. Candidates for cochlea implantation should always be informed about possible damage of vestibular function. New surgery techniques and new electrodes may reduce damage of vestibular receptors.