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An optically-guided cochlear implant sheath for real-time monitoring of electrode insertion into the human cochlea
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
In cochlear implant surgery, insertion of perimodiolar electrode arrays into the scala tympani can be complicated by trauma or even accidental translocation of the electrode array within the cochlea. In patients with partial hearing loss, cochlear trauma can not only negatively affect implant performance, but also reduce residual hearing function. These events have been related to suboptimal positioning of the cochlear implant electrode array with respect to critical cochlear walls of the scala tympani (modiolar wall, osseous spiral lamina and basilar membrane). Currently, the position of the electrode array in relation to these walls cannot be assessed during the insertion and the surgeon depends on tactile feedback, which is unreliable and often comes too late. This study presents an image-guided cochlear implant device with an integrated, fiber-optic imaging probe that provides real-time feedback using optical coherence tomography during insertion into the human cochlea. This novel device enables the surgeon to accurately detect and identify the cochlear walls ahead and to adjust the insertion trajectory, avoiding collision and trauma. The functionality of this prototype has been demonstrated in a series of insertion experiments, conducted by experienced cochlear implant surgeons on fresh-frozen human cadaveric cochleae.