Cochlear implantation is a surgical procedure that aims to overcome hearing loss by direct electrical stimulation of the spiral ganglion cells in the cochlea of the inner ear. The surgical scenario of implantation surgery is very complex. It requires high clinical expertise in order to 1) efficiently access the surgical site, the cochlea, localize nearby critical structures (e.g. facial nerve) and 2) optimize the position of the implantable device (electrode array) inside the cochlea. Furthermore, there is a vast anatomical variability amongst patients. This makes individual optimal fitting an extremely difficult task and strongly influences the success of the surgery and subsequently hearing restoration.
We hypothesize that a comprehensive understanding of the shape variability of the middle and inner ear among patients will enable the design improvement of hearing implants, and will be of assistance during surgical planning. Consequently, the aim of this project is:
- to develop a novel high-resolution high-energy microCT device to obtain detailed images of the middle and inner ear, even in the presence of metallic implants,
- to build a model of the shape variability of the middle and inner ear from high-resolution images, also incorporating functional information,
- to build a computer-assisted patient-specific preoperative planning system, and
- to improve the design of cochlear implant (CI) electrode arrays and associated insertion tools using a population-based optimization framework. All objectives revolve around the criteria of minimizing invasiveness, insertion-induced trauma and enhanced functional outcome through patient-specific frequency mapping.
The consortium is composed of two research-intensive SMEs, one university hospital, a university, and a large European enterprise. This project will lead to important strategic benefits for all partners, and very especially for the SMEs.