Author(s): Shepherd RK, Hatsushika S, Clark GM
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Abstract Histological studies have shown that the Melbourne/Cochlear electrode array lies along the outer wall of the scala tympani and is therefore some distance from the residual VIIIth nerve elements. In order to investigate the influence of electrode position on neural excitation we systematically varied the position of the electrode array within the cat scala tympani while recording electrically evoked auditory brainstem responses (EABRs). Using both normal hearing and long-term deafened animals, we observed significant reductions in EABR thresholds as the electrode array was moved from the outer wall towards the modiolus. Further threshold reductions were observed when the array was placed underneath the osseous spiral lamina (OSL) close to the peripheral dendrites. These changes were independent of the bipolar inter-electrode separation, and were observed over a wide range of cochlear pathologies varying from normal to a moderate spiral ganglion cell loss. Interestingly, the one animal exhibiting extensive neural loss showed no correlation between EABR threshold and electrode position. There was also a general decrease in the gradient of the EABR input-output function as the electrode array was moved closer to the neural elements. This was, however, only statistically significant when the electrode was positioned adjacent to the peripheral dendrites. Significant reductions in EABR threshold were also observed as the inter-electrode spacing of the bipolar electrodes was increased. The gradient of the EABR input-output function also increased with increasing inter-electrode spacing, although again, this was only significant when the electrode array was positioned close to the neural elements. The present results indicate that the optimum placement of a Melbourne/Cochlear electrode array is adjacent to the peripheral dendrites. However, such a site would be difficult to achieve in practice while minimizing insertion trauma. An array lying adjacent to the modiolus would be a safe alternative while ensuring a significant reduction in threshold compared with the existing site (outer wall). This placement should result in more localized neural excitation patterns, an increase in the number of bipolar electrodes available, together with an increase in their dynamic range. These changes may lead to further improvements in speech perception among cochlear implant patients.
This article was published in Hear Res
and referenced in OMICS Journal of Radiology