Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI)


CNC Hearing and Balance Center is now offering the latest advancement in hearing technology – an auditory brainstem implant (ABI) for those unable to benefit from a cochlear implant. “Adults who lose their hearing nerves to brain tumors like acoustic neuroma and babies born without hearing nerves now can receive an ABI and receive sound stimulus similar to a cochlear implant,” said Neurotologist Moises Arriaga of CNC Hearing and Balance Center. “It is a major advance and means these people are no longer forced to live in a silent world,” he said. The auditory brainstem implant uses technology similar to that of the cochlear implant, but the ABI bypasses both the cochlea and the hearing nerve, taking a short cut to the brainstem. It provides a sense of sound when the hearing nerve is not working.  It is a surgically implanted electronic device that has two parts: an external part worn on the ear and the surgically implanted internal part. The ABI provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf, due to retrocochlear hearing impairment.


One of the main uses of the auditory brainstem implant is for those with the condition Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2). Adults with Neurofibromatosis Type 2 have a disorder characterized by the growth of non-cancerous tumors in the nervous system referred to as acoustic neuromas. These tumors develop along the nerve that transmits information from the inner ear to the brain, known as the auditory nerve. The signs and symptoms of NF2 generally begin to appear during the patient’s teens or early 20s, and start with hearing loss, tinnitus, and problems with balance. In the majority of instances, these acoustic neuromas develop in both ears by the age of 30.

WWL-TV’s Meg Farris reported on one of the first ABI procedures in Louisiana, in the news report below.

A former teacher from Prarieville, LA is making good progress learning to hear again after ten years of silence.  Jessica Jackson lost her hearing years ago due to a condition called Neurofibromatosis 2, which causes tumors to grow on the hearing nerve, causing deafness.  A team of surgeons from Culicchia Neurological and CNC Hearing and Balance Center were able to get Jessica hearing again in a highly sophisticated surgery performed only in Louisiana at West Jefferson Medical Center.

In a complex surgery in December, 2020, a team led by Neurotologist Moises Arriaga and Neurosurgeon Frank Culicchia removed a tumor on one side of her brain and at the same time that the remnant of tumor was removed, a special electrode  was implanted in her brain stem to stimulate the connections in the brain where the hearing nerves go in.  “It is a way of trying to stimulate the hearing center even though she doesn’t have an inner ear or hearing nerve on either side,” said Dr. Arriaga.

“There are a number of steps in all of this. Obviously, step #1 is to get the tumor out. Step #2 is to place the ABI in the brain stem in the appropriate location. The device is stimulated and tiny little electrical impulses are recorded from the brain to make sure it’s just in the right position.”

If you’re inflicted with NF2 or hearing loss from other disorders, the CNC Hearing and Balance Center can determine the best course of action to restore your hearing loss. Our experts can determine if you are a candidate for an auditory brainstem implant. To make an appointment with the Uptown Center, call (504) 934-8321, or call the Marrero CNC Center at (504) 934-8320. Get your sound advice from CNC specialists today!