Published August 1, 2017 | The Laryngoscope

When pediatric otolaryngologists Daniel Choo, MD, and Christine Heubi, MD, tackled a systematic literature review focusing on best practice care for children with single-sided deafness in 2016, they were not surprised to find plenty of research about the efficacy of bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHA) and contralateral routing of signal (CROS) devices.

It’s what they didn’t find that surprised them.

“There wasn’t any conclusive data about cochlear implantation,” says Choo, Director of Pediatric Otolaryngology.  “That was a disconnect for us, because we had been aggressively implanting kids with single-sided deafness for almost a year and seeing good results.”

Children with single-sided deafness are at elevated risk for delays in speech-language development and cognition, as well as behavioral problems.

Such delays are likely caused, at least in part, because the child’s brain develops differently on the deaf side, due to a lack of auditory stimulation. hold such promise for these children because, unlike hearing aids, they stimulate the deaf ear.

“As a follow-up, we designed a pilot study using late-evoked potentials to measure brain electrical activity in three pediatric patients who had a cochlear implant in their deaf ear,” says Choo. “The results of this small study suggest that in kids with single-sided deafness, cochlear implantation recapitulates normal brain activation by restoring hearing on the deaf side.”

The literature review included best practice guidelines relative to the use of BAHA and CROS hearing aids, and mentioned emerging cochlear implantation research, which is taking place at Cincinnati Children’s and elsewhere.

“Cochlear implants are rapidly becoming the standard of care for this patient population,” Choo says. “Even people who have been deaf in one ear for many years can benefit.”