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Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2001 Sep;110(9):883-91.

Histopathology of cochlear implants in humans.

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Department of Otolaryngology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston 02114, USA.


The insertion of an intrascalar electrode array during cochlear implantation causes immediate damage to the inner ear and may result in delayed onset of additional damage that may interfere with neuronal stimulation. To date, there have been reports on fewer than 50 temporal bone specimens from patients who had undergone implantation during life. The majority of these were single-channel implants, whereas the majority of implants inserted today are multichannel systems. This report presents the histopathologic findings in temporal bones from 8 individuals who in life had undergone multichannel cochlear implantation, with particular attention to the type and location of trauma and to long-term changes within the cochlea. The effect of these changes on spiral ganglion cell counts and the correlation between speech comprehension and spiral ganglion cell counts were calculated. In 4 of the 8 cases, the opposite, unimplanted ear was available for comparison. In 3 of the 4 cases, there was no significant difference between the spiral ganglion cell counts on the implanted and unimplanted sides. In addition, in this series of 8 cases, there was an apparent negative correlation between residual spiral ganglion cell count and hearing performance during life as measured by single-syllable word recognition. This finding suggests that abnormalities in the central auditory pathways are at least as important as spiral ganglion cell loss in limiting the performance of implant users.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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