Activation region overlap visualization for image-guided cochlear implant programming.


. The cochlear implant is a neural prosthesis designed to directly stimulate auditory nerve fibers to induce the sensation of hearing in those experiencing severe-to-profound hearing loss. After surgical implantation, audiologists program the implant's external processor with settings intended to produce optimal hearing outcomes. The likelihood of achieving optimal outcomes increases when audiologists have access to tools that objectively present information related to the patient's own anatomy and surgical outcomes. This includes visualizations like the one presented here, termed the activation region overlap image, which is designed to decrease subjectivity when determining amounts of overlapping stimulation between implant electrodes.. This visualization uses estimates of electric field strength to indicate spread of neural excitation due to each electrode. Unlike prior visualizations, this method explicitly defines regions of nerves receiving substantial stimulation from each electrode to help clinicians assess the presence of significant overlapping stimulation. A multi-reviewer study compared this and an existing technique on the consistency, efficiency, and optimality of plans generated from each method. Statistical significance was evaluated using the two-sided Wilcoxon rank sum test.. The study showed statistically significant improvements in consistency (  10), efficiency (  10), and optimality (  10) when generating plans using the proposed method versus the existing method.. This visualization addresses subjectivity in assessing overlapping stimulation between implant electrodes, which currently relies on reviewer estimates. The results of the evaluation indicate the provision of such objective information during programming sessions would likely benefit clinicians in making programming decisions.