Logo for the Journal of Rehab R and D

Volume 45 Number 5, 2008
   Pages 731 — 748

Abstract - Considerations for design of future cochlear implant electrode arrays: Electrode array stiffness, size, and depth of insertion

Stephen J. Rebscher, MA; Alexander Hetherington, BS;* Ben Bonham, PhD; Peter Wardrop, FRCS; David Whinney, FRCS; Patricia A. Leake, PhD

Department of Otolaryngology, University of California, San Francisco, CA

Abstract — The level of hearing rehabilitation enjoyed by cochlear implant (CI) recipients has increased dramatically since the introduction of these devices. This improvement is the result of continual development of these systems and the inclusion of subjects with less severe auditory pathology. Developments include advanced signal processing, higher stimulation rates, greater numbers of channels, and more efficient electrode arrays that are less likely to produce insertion damage. New directions in the application of CIs, particularly in combined acoustic and electrical stimulation, and increasing performance expectations will place greater demands on future electrode arrays. Specifically, the next generation of arrays must be reliably inserted without damage, must maintain residual acoustic function, and may need to be inserted more deeply. In this study, we measured the mechanical properties of eight clinical and prototype human CI electrode arrays and evaluated insertion trauma and insertion depth in 79 implanted cadaver temporal bones. We found that the size and shape of the array directly affect the incidence of observed trauma. Further, arrays with greater stiffness in the plane perpendicular to the plane of the cochlear spiral are less likely to cause severe trauma than arrays with similar vertical and horizontal stiffness.

Key words: cochlear implant, electrode, electrode array, electrode design, electrode stiffness, insertion damage, insertion depth, rehabilitation, temporal bone, trauma.

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