Intraoperative Cochlear Implant Device Testing Utilizing an Automated Remote System: A Prospective Pilot Study

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Abstract

Introduction:

Intraoperative cochlear implant device testing provides valuable information regarding device integrity, electrode position, and may assist with determining initial stimulation settings. Manual intraoperative device testing during cochlear implantation requires the time and expertise of a trained audiologist. The purpose of the current study is to investigate the feasibility of using automated remote intraoperative cochlear implant reverse telemetry testing as an alternative to standard testing.

Methods:

Prospective pilot study evaluating intraoperative remote automated impedance and Automatic Neural Response Telemetry (AutoNRT) testing in 34 consecutive cochlear implant surgeries using the Intraoperative Remote Assistant (Cochlear Nucleus CR120). In all cases, remote intraoperative device testing was performed by trained operating room staff. A comparison was made to the “gold standard” of manual testing by an experienced cochlear implant audiologist. Electrode position and absence of tip fold-over was confirmed using plain film x-ray.

Results:

Automated remote reverse telemetry testing was successfully completed in all patients. Intraoperative x-ray demonstrated normal electrode position without tip fold-over. Average impedance values were significantly higher using standard testing versus CR120 remote testing (standard mean 10.7 kΩ, SD 1.2 vs. CR120 mean 7.5 kΩ, SD 0.7, p < 0.001). There was strong agreement between standard manual testing and remote automated testing with regard to the presence of open or short circuits along the array. There were, however, two cases in which standard testing identified an open circuit, when CR120 testing showed the circuit to be closed. Neural responses were successfully obtained in all patients using both systems. There was no difference in basal electrode responses (standard mean 195.0 μV, SD 14.10 vs. CR120 194.5 μV, SD 14.23; p = 0.7814); however, more favorable (lower μV amplitude) results were obtained with the remote automated system in the apical 10 electrodes (standard 185.4 μV, SD 11.69 vs. CR120 177.0 μV, SD 11.57; p value < 0.001).

Conclusion:

These preliminary data demonstrate that intraoperative cochlear implant device testing using a remote automated system is feasible. This system may be useful for cochlear implant programs with limited audiology support or for programs looking to streamline intraoperative device testing protocols. Future studies with larger patient enrollment are required to validate these promising, but preliminary, findings.

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