Impact of Coupling Techniques of an Active Middle Ear Device to the Round Window Membrane for the Backward Stimulation of the Cochlea

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Abstract

Hypothesis

Interposed cartilage and the round window coupler (RWC) increase the efficiency of cochlea stimulation with the floating mass transducer (FMT) of a single active middle ear implant (AMEI) placed against the round window membrane.

Background

Treatment of mixed and conductive hearing loss with an AMEI attached to the round window is effective, yet the best placement technique of its FMT for the most efficient stimulation of the cochlea remains to be determined.

Methods

Experimental study on human temporal bones with the FMT placed against firstly the unaltered round window niche and then subsequently against the fully exposed round window membrane with and without interposed cartilage and the RWC. Cochlea stimulation is measured by the volume velocities of the stapes footplate using LASER vibrometry.

Results

At the undrilled round window niche, placement of the FMT by itself and with the RWC resulted in similar volume velocities. The response was significantly raised by interposing cartilage into the undrilled round window niche. Complete exposure of the round window membrane allowed for significantly increased volume velocities. Among these, coupling of the FMT with interposed cartilage yielded responses of similar magnitude compared with the RWC but significantly higher compared with the FMT by itself.

Conclusion

Good contact to the round window membrane is essential for efficient stimulation of the cochlea. Therefore, interposing cartilage into the undrilled round window niche is a viable option. At the drilled round window membrane, the FMT with interposed cartilage and attached to the RWC are similarly effective.

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