Cochlear implant as a sensor

Journal Reference:

  1. Andreas Weltin, Jochen Kieninger, Gerald A. Urban, Sarah Buchholz, Susan Arndt, Nicole Rosskothen-Kuhl. Standard cochlear implants as electrochemical sensors: Intracochlear oxygen measurements in vivo. Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 2022; 199: 113859 DOI: 10.1016/j.bios.2021.113859

“For the first time, specific sensor protocols allow the classic stimulation electrodes of the cochlear implant to be used as highly sensitive and accurate microsensors,” explains Dr. Andreas Weltin, group leader at the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) at the University of Freiburg. “This sensor function is the basis for smarter implants that could monitor the implant’s condition and its environment directly in the inner ear.”

It has already been possible to measure the oxygen content of the implant environment reliably and without affecting auditory nerve stimulation in animal models. The next step will now be to verify how consistent the sensor properties in the animal model are over a longer period of time. “If we also achieve positive results here, it could be an important milestone on the way to permanent sensor-based monitoring of cochlear implants,” says Dr. Nicole Roßkothen-Kuhl, Medical Faculty of the University of Freiburg and head of the Neurobiological Research Laboratory in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University Medical Center Freiburg. Implant recipients would benefit greatly from such on-site monitoring. “The more precise the information we receive about possible changes, the better implants can be developed to enable perfect hearing for as long as possible.”

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Cochlear implant as a sensor