To investigate the effects of vestibular prosthesis electrode implantation and activation on hearing in rhesus monkeys, we measured auditory brainstem responses (ABR) and distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAE) in four rhesus monkeys before and after unilateral implantation of vestibular prosthesis electrodes in each of 3 left semicircular canals (SCC). Each of the 3 left SCCs were implanted with electrodes via a transmastoid approach. Right ears, which served as controls, were not surgically manipulated. Hearing tests were conducted before implantation (BI) and then 4 weeks post-implantation both without electrical stimulation (NS) and with electrical stimulation (S). During the latter condition, prosthetic electrical stimuli encoding 3 dimensions of head angular velocity were delivered to the 3 ampullary branches of the left vestibular nerve via each of 3 electrode pairs of a multichannel vestibular prosthesis. Electrical stimuli comprised charge-balanced biphasic pulses at a baseline rate of 94 pulses/s, with pulse frequency modulated from 48 to 222 pulses/s by head angular velocity. ABR hearing thresholds to clicks and tone pips at 1, 2, and 4 kHz increased by 5-10 dB from BI to NS and increased another ∼5 dB from NS to S in implanted ears. No significant change was seen in right ears. DPOAE amplitudes decreased by 2-14 dB from BI to NS in implanted ears. There was a slight but insignificant decrease of DPOAE amplitude and a corresponding increase of DPOAE/Noise floor ratio between NS and S in implanted ears.Vestibular prosthesis electrode implantation and activation have small but measurable effects on hearing in rhesus monkeys. Coupled with the clinical observation that patients with cochlear implants only rarely exhibit signs of vestibular injury or spurious vestibular nerve stimulation, these results suggest that although implantation and activation of multichannel vestibular prosthesis electrodes in human will carry a risk of hearing loss, that loss is not likely to be severe.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems