The Crista Fenestra and Its Impact on the Surgical Approach to the Scala Tympani during Cochlear Implantation

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Abstract

Objective:

The aim of this work was to describe the dimensions of the crista fenestra and determine its presence by means of high-resolution computed tomography (CT) for the purpose of cochlear implantation via the round window approach.

Methods:

A series of 10 adult human temporal bones underwent high-resolution CT scanning and were further dissected for microscopic study of the round window niche.

Results:

In all of the specimens, the round window membrane was fully visualized after the complete removal of bony overhangs. The crista fenestra was identified as a sharp bony crest located in the anterior and inferior borders of the niche; its area ranged from 0.28 to 0.80 mm2 (mean 0.51 ± 0.18). The proportion of the area occupied by the crista fenestra in the whole circumference of the round window ranged from 23 to 50% (mean 36%). We found a moderate positive correlation between the area of the niche and the dimensions of the crista fenestra (Spearman rho: 0.491). In every case, high-resolution CT scanning was unable to determine the presence of the crista fenestra.

Conclusion:

The crista fenestra occupies a variable but expressive area within the bony round window niche. Narrower round window niches tended to house smaller crests. The presence of the crista fenestra is an important obstacle to adequate access to the scala tympani. Nevertheless, a high-resolution CT scan provides no additional preoperative information with regard to its presence for the purpose of surgical access to the scala tympani via the round window niche.

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