Figures show that between 2006 and 2011 94% of eligible children had received a cochlear implant by the age of 17. This contrasts sharply with only 5% of adults eligible for a cochlear implant actually receiving one (Raine 2013).
Patients may be referred to NERCIP if they have a severe to profound hearing loss at two or more frequencies between 500 and 4000Hz (i.e. >= 80 dBHL or any dead regions or suspected dead regions at 500, 1000, 2000, 3000 and 4000Hz).
Patients diagnosed with Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD) and not gaining adequate benefit from full time use of bilateral hearing aids may be referred with thresholds better than those described above.
All patients should have been wearing appropriately fitted hearing aids for at least six weeks unless hearing loss is a result of meningitis or there is a clinical reason why this is not possible.
It is recognised that generally the sooner a child is implanted the better the outcomes. Therefore, we would encourage referrals to be made as soon as a child has a profound loss confirmed.
Newly diagnosed profoundly deaf children from the newborn hearing screening programme should be referred once:
- The infant has an assumed severe to profound sensorineural loss as specified above, or if basing this on objective testing alone, no response to a 4kHz and 1kHz stimulus (regardless of the click response)
- They have worn hearing aids consistently for at least six weeks
- They have no middle ear fluid demonstrated by tympanometry
If a child is referred before eight months of age the family will receive a home visit from a cochlear implant key worker but will usually not be seen for formal testing until around eight months of age. An exception to this would be in cases of meningitis, where the child would be seen as soon as possible and would be treated as an urgent case due to the potential for ossification of the cochlea.
For both adult and paediatric patients, if the referring professional feels a referral is warranted but the patient does not meet the referral criteria, they should seek the advice of NERCIP.
Raine, C. 2013. ‘Cochlear Implants in the United Kingdom: Awareness and utilization.’ Cochlear implants international> An Interdisciplinary Journal. Vol 14, Issue sup1.
For patients who have one cochlear implant there may be a compatible hearing aid that can be used in the other ear. The audiologist will discuss this with the patient if appropriate. The hearing aids that are currently available from the cochlear implant companies (although these may not be provided by NERCIP) are:
- Advanced Bionics: Naida or Sky Link for bimodal streaming, volume and programme functions and microphone directionality.
- Cochlear: Ambio Smart (NHS) for bimodal streaming. Other Danalogic privately purchased hearing aids are also compatible with the GN Resound mini mic 2.