Korean J Otorhinolaryngol-Head Neck Surg.  2021 Jul;64(7):467-472. 10.3342/kjorl-hns.2020.00570.

Sound Processor Replacement in Patients with Cochlear Implant: Analysis of a 30-Year Single-Institutional Experience

  • 1Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Kyungpook National University Hospital, Daegu, Korea


Background and Objectives
The purpose of this study is to investigate the replacement of external sound processors and to help understand the economic burden experienced from cochlear implant users.
Subjects and Method
Among the 500 cases of cochlear implant surgery from 1992 to 2019, 336 cases from 311 patients who had used a cochlear implant for more than 1 year were enrolled. The period of cochlear implant use, replacement of the sound processor, the number, method, and reason of replacements were examined.
One hundred sixty cases (47.62%) replaced the sound processor at least once. There were a total of 213 replacements made in 160 cases. The most common reason for replacing the sound processors was because it could not be repaired (71 replacements, 33.33%), with their period of use being an average of 12 years. The most common replacement method of the sound processors was by purchasing with medical insurance benefits (100 replacements, 46.95%), with the usage period being an average of 11 years and 4 months.
Cochlear implant users replaced the sound processor for various reasons and the period of using one sound processor was relatively short. About half of all replacement cases were made by applying for medical insurance benefits. Others purchased directly through a sales company and paid a relatively high cost. Therefore, it is necessary to expand the medical insurance for external sound processor of cochlear implants to include exchange times considering the economic burden of cochlear implant users.


Cochlear implant; External device; Failure rate; Hearing loss
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