Objective: To investigate whether the residual hearing of severely hearing-impaired children and adults could be preserved using the soft surgery approach. Patients and Methods: This project employed a prospective study design. All testing and surgery took place in the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing, Warsaw, Poland. Twenty-six patients (7 children and 19 post-lingually deafened adults) with residual hearing were assessed. Subjects were assessed using conventional pure-tone audiometry at least 1 month prior to surgery. Cochlear implant surgery with a Med-El Combi 40/40+ standard electrode array was conducted, using the soft surgery approach. Pure-tone audiometry thresholds were re-assessed at least 1 month after surgery. The researchers assessed change in auditory thresholds using pure-tone audiometry to determine preservation of residual hearing. Results: Sixteen of 26 patients (62%) retained their residual hearing within 5 dB HL of pre-operative scores. Only 5 of 26 patients (19%) lost all measurable residual hearing after cochlear implantation. This suggests that surgeons are often able to preserve residual hearing during cochlear implant surgery using the soft surgery technique. Conclusions: Preservation of residual hearing is an important consideration in cochlear implantation in the light of changing selection criteria for cochlear implant candidates, and as younger children are receiving implants. This is important, as we do not know yet the long-term effects of inner ear damage due to traumatic insertions of electrodes. This finding suggests a good prognosis for future possibilities of re-implantation.

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