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Age Affects Benefits of Cochlear Implants

Other study finds endoscopic sinus surgery rate up while rhinosinusitis diagnoses have fallen

TUESDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly patients can benefit significantly from cochlear implants, though not as much as younger patients on some measures, according to a study in the May issue of Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery. According to another study in the same journal, the substantial increase in endoscopic surgery for chronic sinus problems in the Medicare population is of uncertain value.

David R. Friedland, M.D., Ph.D., of the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and colleagues studied outcomes for a group of 78 patients aged 65 and older who had cochlear implants. The researchers also compared the outcomes of a subset of 28 of the elderly patients to 28 younger patients (ages 18 to 64 at implantation). Overall, the elderly patients improved significantly but still had poorer scores than the younger patients on the Hearing in Noise Test-Quiet (70 percent versus 83 percent) and the Consonant-Nucleus-Consonant test (38 percent versus 53 percent).

In the other study, Giridhar Venkatraman, M.D., of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues studied trends in chronic rhinosinusitis diagnosis, and endoscopic and surgical treatments among Medicare beneficiaries during 1998-2006. They found chronic rhinosinusitis diagnoses declined 1.4 percent while the rate of endoscopic sinus surgery increased 20 percent and the rate of open sinus surgery declined 40 percent.

"Because of the uncertainty regarding the outcomes of surgical versus medical management, the root causes of the observed increase in endoscopic sinus surgery rates need to be investigated. Given that sinusitis is a common diagnosis necessitating physician visits, comparative effectiveness studies examining medical versus surgical management would be warranted," Venkatraman and colleagues write.

One author in the first study reported serving as a member of the MED-EL Corporation Audiology Advisory Board.

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