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Development and evaluation of the Nurotron 26-electrode cochlear implant system


Although the cochlear implant has been widely acknowledged as the most successful neural prosthesis, only a fraction of hearing-impaired people who can potentially benefit from a cochlear implant have actually received one due to its limited awareness, accessibility, and affordability. To help overcome these limitations, a 26-electrode cochlear implant has been developed to receive China's Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) approval in 2011 and Conformité Européenne (CE) Marking in 2012. The present article describes design philosophy, system specification, and technical verification of the Nurotron device, which includes advanced digital signal processing and 4 current sources with multiple amplitude resolutions that not only are compatible with perceptual capability but also allow interleaved or simultaneous stimulation. The article also presents 3-year longitudinal evaluation data from 60 human subjects who have received the Nurotron device. The objective measures show that electrode impedance decreased within the first month of device use, but was stable until a slight increase at the end of two years. The subjective loudness measures show that electric stimulation threshold was stable while the maximal comfort level increased over the 3 years. Mandarin sentence recognition increased from the pre-surgical 0%-correct score to a plateau of about 80% correct with 6-month use of the device. Both indirect and direct comparisons indicate indistinguishable performance differences between the Nurotron system and other commercially available devices. The present 26-electrode cochlear implant has already helped to lower the price of cochlear implantation in China and will likely contribute to increased cochlear implant access and success in the rest of the world. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled .

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