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Effects of tinnitus on cochlear implant programming

Pierzycki, Robert H; Corner, Charlotte; Fielden, Claire A; Kitterick, P�draig T

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Robert H Pierzycki

Charlotte Corner

Claire A Fielden

P�draig T Kitterick


Clinical observations suggest that tinnitus may interfere with programming cochlear implants (CIs), the process of optimizing the transmission of acoustic information to support speech perception with a CI. Despite tinnitus being highly prevalent among CI users, its effects and impact on CI programming are obscure. This study characterized the nature, time-course and impact of tinnitus effects encountered by audiologists and patients during programming appointments. Semi-structured interviews with six CI audiologists were analyzed thematically to identify tinnitus effects on programming and related coping strategies. Cross-sectional surveys with 67 adult CI patients with tinnitus and 20 CI audiologists in the UK examined the prevalence and time-course of those effects. Programming parameters established at CI activation appointments of 10 patients with tinnitus were compared to those of 10 patients without tinnitus. On average, 80% of audiologists and 45% of patients reported that tinnitus makes measurements of threshold (T) levels more difficult because patients confuse their tinnitus with CI stimulation. Difficulties appeared most common at CI activation appointments, at which T levels were significantly higher in patients with tinnitus. On average, 26% of patients reported being afraid of ‘loud’ CI stimulation worsening tinnitus, affecting measurements of loudest comfortable (C) stimulation levels, and 34% of audiologists reported observing similar effects. Patients and audiologists reported that tinnitus makes programming appointments more difficult and tiresome for patients. The findings suggest that specific programming strategies may be needed during CI programming with tinnitus, but further research is required to assess the potential impact on outcomes including speech perception.


Pierzycki, R. H., Corner, C., Fielden, C. A., & Kitterick, P. T. (2019). Effects of tinnitus on cochlear implant programming. Trends in Hearing, 23,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 14, 2019
Online Publication Date Mar 17, 2019
Publication Date Mar 17, 2019
Deposit Date Feb 27, 2019
Publicly Available Date Mar 28, 2019
Journal Trends in Hearing
Electronic ISSN 2331-2165
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Mar 28, 2019


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