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Strategies to improve electrode positioning and safety in cochlear implants

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6 Author(s)
Rebscher, S.J. ; Dept. of Otolaryngology, California Univ., San Francisco, CA, USA ; Heilmann, M. ; Bruszewski, W. ; Talbot, N.H.
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An injection-molded internal supporting rib has been produced to control the flexibility of silicone rubber encapsulated electrodes designed to electrically stimulate the auditory nerve in human subjects with severe to profound hearing loss. The rib molding dies, and molds for silicone rubber encapsulation of the electrode, were designed and machined using AutoCad and MasterCam software packages in a PC environment. After molding, the prototype plastic ribs were iteratively modified based on observations of the performance of the rib/silicone composite insert in a clear plastic model of the human scala tympani cavity. The rib-based electrodes were reliably inserted farther into these models, required less insertion force and were positioned closer to the target auditory neural elements than currently available cochlear implant electrodes. With further design improvements the injection-molded rib may also function to accurately support metal stimulating contacts and wire leads during assembly to significantly increase the manufacturing efficiency of these devices. This method to reliably control the mechanical properties of miniature implantable devices with multiple electrical leads may be valuable in other areas of biomedical device design.

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Biomedical Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:46 ,  Issue: 3 )