The Underlying Mechanism of Preventing Facial Nerve Stimulation by Triphasic Pulse Stimulation in Cochlear Implant Users Assessed With Objective Measure

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Triphasic pulse stimulation prevents from facial nerve stimulation (FNS) because of a different electromyographic input–output function compared with biphasic pulse stimulation.


FNS is sometimes observed in cochlear implant users as an unwanted side effect of electrical stimulation of the auditory nerve. The common stimulation applied in current cochlear implant consists of biphasic pulse patterns. Two common clinical remedies to prevent unpleasant FNS caused by activation of certain electrodes are to expand their pulse phase duration or simply deactivate them. Unfortunately, in some patients these methods do not provide sufficient FNS prevention. In these patients triphasic pulse can prevent from FNS. The underlying mechanism is yet unclear.


Electromyographic (EMG) recordings of muscles innervated by the facial nerve (musculi orbicularis ori and oculi) were applied to quantitatively assess the effects on FNS. Triphasic and biphasic fitting maps were compared in four subjects with severe FNS. Based on the recordings, a model is presented which intends to explain the beneficial effects of triphasic pulse application.


Triphasic stimulation provided by fitting of an OPUS 2 speech processor device. For three patients, EMG was successfully recorded depending on stimulation level up to uncomfortable and intolerable FNS stimulation as upper boarder. The obtained EMG recordings demonstrated high individual variability. However, a difference between the input–output function for biphasic and triphasic pulse stimulation was visually observable. Compared with standard biphasic stimulation, triphasic pulses require higher stimulation levels to elicit an equal amount of FNS, as reflected by EMG amplitudes. In addition, we assume a steeper slope of the input–output function for biphasic pulse stimulation compared with triphasic pulse stimulation.


Triphasic pulse stimulation prevents from FNS because of a smaller gradient of EMG input–output function compared with biphasic pulse stimulation. The underlying mechanism can be modeled by differences in spatiotemporal spread of the electrical field.

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