Depth of electrode insertion and postoperative performance in humans with cochlear implants: A histopathologic study

Department of Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass., USA.
Audiology and Neurotology (Impact Factor: 1.85). 03/2010; 15(5):323-31. DOI: 10.1159/000289571
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The depth of electrode insertion of a multichannel cochlear implant has been suggested as a clinical variable that may correlate with word recognition using the implant. The current study evaluates this relationship using the human temporal bone collection at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Twenty-seven temporal bones of subjects with cochlear implants were studied. Temporal bones were removed at autopsy, fixed and prepared for histological study by standard techniques. Specimens were then serially sectioned, and reconstructed by two-dimensional methods. Three measures of length were made from each subject's reconstruction: (1) depth of insertion (DI) of the cochlear implant electrode array, from the round window to the array's apical tip; (2) inserted length (IL) from the cochleostomy to the apical tip of the array, and (3) cochlear duct length (CDL) from the round window to the helicotrema. The active electrode length (AEL) was defined as the distance between the most apical and most basal electrodes of the array. Stepwise regression was used to identify whether subsets of six metrics associated with insertion depth (DI, DI/AEL, DI/CDL, IL, IL/AEL and IL/CDL), duration of deafness, sound-processing strategy, potential for central impairment and age at implantation accounted for significant across-subject variance in the last recorded NU-6 word score measured during each subject's life. Age at implantation and potential for central impairment account for significant percentages of the across-subject variance in NU-6 word scores for the 27 subjects studied. None of the insertion metrics accounted for significant performance variance, even when the variance associated with the other variables was controlled. These results, together with those of previous studies, are consistent with a relatively weak association between electrode insertion depth and speech reception.

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