To assess by electrocochleography (ECoG) at which times during cochlear implantation changes of cochlear function occur.
Tone bursts with a frequency of 500 or 750 Hz were used as acoustic stimuli. The recording electrode was placed on the promontory and left in an unchanged position for all ECoG recordings.
Eight subjects were included. After opening the cochlea, an increase of the amplitude of the ECoG signal was detectable in four subjects (mean change 3.9 dB, range from 0.2 to 10.8 dB). No decreases were detectable after opening the cochlea or during the first half of the insertion of the CI electrode array (mean change 0.5 dB, range from -2.2 to 1.6 dB). During the second half of the insertion, the amplitude of the ECoG signal decreased in four subjects (mean change -2.5 dB, range from -0.04 to -4.8 dB). If a decrease occurred during the second half of the insertion, then the decrease continued in the earliest phase after insertion of the CI electrode array (mean change -2.1 dB, range from -0.5 to -5.8 dB).
Pressure changes inside the cochlea can lead to an increase of ECoG signals after opening the cochlea. If detectable, then a decrease of ECoG signals occurs during the second half of the insertion of the CI electrode array and continues in the earliest phase after completed insertion. These findings suggest that cochlear trauma occurs toward the end of the insertion and that trauma-dependent postoperative mechanisms contribute to postoperative hearing loss.