To increase the number of intracochlear electrodes that may be inserted into a totally obliterated cochlea, a special implant has been developed in collaboration with Cochlear Limited. This implant features two separate electrode carriers containing 11 and 10 active electrodes, respectively, as well as a reference electrode located on the receiver-stimulator package. The potential stimulation modes available with this device therefore include monopolar and bipolar stimulation, and stimulation between both arrays.
A cochleostomy anterior to the round window provides access to the basal turn (both the scala tympani and the scala vestibuli), and new built connective tissue and bone can be removed until the anterior wall of the basal turn is approached. A second cochleostomy is performed at the second turn caudal of the cochleariform process and 2 mm anterior of the oval window after removal of the incus. New tissue should also be removed if necessary. The two electrode carriers are then placed into the scala tympani of the basal and the scala vestibuli of the second turn, respectively. The remaining surgical procedure is identical with that used for cochlear implantation
in patients without obliterated cochleas.
In this clinical study, 10 patients aged 32 to 66 years with an obliterated cochlea each received a double array
cochlear implant. All patients had total obliteration
of the basal turn either on preoperative imaging or during surgery. Intraoperatively, the second turn was not obliterated in only 4 of 10 patients. Postoperatively, a standard audiologic test battery was used to determine auditory improvement over time.
All patients achieved significantly improved speech understanding when the additional apical electrode array was used, compared with the use of each electrode array independently. No complications occurred.
In patients with a totally obliterated cochlea, the number of intracochlear electrodes can be increased by use of the Nucleus double array
implant. As a result, patients achieve significantly better auditory results.