Vestibular function in cochlear implant candidates varies from normal to total absence of function. In patients with intact vestibular function preoperatively, invasion of the otic capsule places residual vestibular function at risk. Speech-processing strategies that result in large amplitude electrical transients or strategies that employ high amplitude broad frequency carrier signals have the potential for disrupting vestibular function. Five patients were tested with and without electrical stimulation via cochlear electrodes. Two patients experienced subjective vestibular effects that were quickly resolved. No long-term vestibular effects were noted for the two types of second generation cochlear implants evaluated. Histopathological findings from another patient, who had electrically generated vestibular reflex responses to intramodiolar electrodes, indicated that responses elicited were a function of several variables including electrode location, stimulus intensity, stimulus amplitude, and stimulus frequency. Differential auditory, vestibulocolic, and vestibulospinal reflexes were demonstrated from the same electrode as a function of stimulus amplitude, frequency, and duration.
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