Positioning a Novel Transcutaneous Bone Conduction Hearing Implant: a Systematic Anatomical and Radiological Study to Standardize the Retrosigmoid Approach, Correlating Navigation-guided, and Landmark-based Surgery

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Anatomical and radiological evaluation improves safety and accuracy of the retrosigmoid approach for positioning a transcutaneous bone conduction implant and provides anatomical reference data for standardized, landmark-based implantation at this alternative site.


The primary implantation site for the floating mass transducer of a novel bone conduction hearing implant is the mastoid. However, anatomical limitations or previous mastoid surgery may prevent mastoid implantation. Therefore, the retrosigmoid approach has been introduced as an alternative.


Mastoid and retrosigmoid implantation sites were radiologically identified and evaluated in preoperative computed tomography scans of anatomical head specimens. Navigation-guided implantation was then performed in the retrosigmoid site (n = 20). The optimal retrosigmoid position was determined in relation to both the asterion and the mastoid notch as surgical landmarks in an anatomical coordinate system.


Preoperative radiological analysis revealed spatial limitations in the mastoid in 45% of the specimens. Navigation-guided retrosigmoid implantation was possible without affecting the sigmoid sinus in all the specimens. The optimal implantation site was located 1.9 ± 0.1 cm posterior/1.7 ± 0.1 cm inferior to the asterion and 3.3 ± 0.2 cm posterior/2.1 ± 0.1 cm superior to the mastoid notch.


Retrosigmoid skull thickness was 6.6 ± 0.4 mm, measured anatomically, 7.0 ± 0.4 mm, measured radiologically and 6.7 ± 0.5 mm, measured with the navigation software.


The navigation-guided retrosigmoid approach seemed to be a reliable procedure in all the specimens. Measurements of bone thickness revealed the need for spacers in 95% of the specimens. Reference coordinates of the optimal implantation site are provided and can confirm image-guided surgery or facilitate orientation if a navigation system is not available.

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