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Cochlear implantation and outcomes in a resource–limited setting: experience from Tanzania

Aveline Aloyce Kahinga
Zephania Saitabau Abraham
Shaban Mawala
Edwin Liyombo


Introduction: Cochlear Implant is a small medical electronic device that is surgically inserted partially in the cochlear (inner ear) to restore some hearing in patients with severe to profound hearing loss. Cochlear implantation is considered a rehabilitative measure of choice that positively impacts on the quality of life of patients.
Objective: The objective was to describe the clinico-demographic characteristics of cochlear implantees and the outcomes of the intervention among the implantees at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) in Tanzania.
Method: This was a hospital based cross-sectional study which involved a total of 39 patients who underwent cochlear implantation from July 2017 to May 2021 at MNH. Clinico-demographic characteristics and outcomes of the intervention among the implantees were collected using structured questionnaires and data were analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences Version 20. Results were then presented in frequency tables and figures.
Results: This study recruited 39 patients with bilateral hearing loss with their ages ranging from 2 to 55 years. Their mean age was 4.7 years and median of 3 years. More than half, 24(61.5%) of implantees aged 2-3 years. Males predominated with male to female ratio of 1.2:1. Majority 37(94.9%) had pre lingual hearing loss and 36 (92.3 %) had bilateral profound sensorineural hearing loss. Ototoxicity was the commonest cause of hearing loss among the implantees contributing 16(41%) followed by birth asphyxia, 8(20.5%). A total of 37(94.9%) of these patients were implanted with a single cochlear device due to the high cost associated with this type of intervention.
Conclusion: Cochlear implantation in limited resource settings is possible and cost effective if there is enough support from the government and other charitable organisations. The availability of rehabilitative services remains key for better outcome after cochlear implantation.