Cochlear implantation is a microsurgical procedure that demands a great level of skills and experience due to the complex and highly variable anatomy of the human temporal bone. A major research focus of the Hearing Research Laboratory is to aid clinicians during several processes involved in cochlear implantation. To this end, software tools that empower surgeons to treat patients under consideration of their individual anatomy and physiology are currently developed and clinically evaluated.
As an example, preoperatively taken computed tomography images can be utilized to extract and reconstruct anatomical structures as three-dimensional models. The surgeon can use the virtual models to plan the surgical access and to optimize the electrode array insertion vector. Suitable lengths for the implanted electrode array can be selected depending on the cochlear size and the patient’s residual hearing. After implantation, the software tools can be applied to reproducibly assess the surgical outcome in postoperative image data sets. Moreover, suggestions for stimulus parameters for the first fitting of the implant can be derived.