Electrode impedance fluctuations as a biomarker for inner ear pathology after cochlear implantation

June Choi, Matthew R. Payne, Luke J. Campbell, Christo W. Bester, Carrie Newbold, Hayden Eastwood, Stephen J. O'Leary

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    23 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives/Hypothesis: Cochlear implant surgery now aims to preserve residual low frequency hearing. The current research explores whether fluctuations in the electrical impedance of cochlear implant electrodes may act as a biomarker for pathological changes that lead to the delayed loss of residual hearing. Study Design: Secondary analysis of a double-blinded randomized trial, where methylprednisolone was administered intravenously before cochlear implantation with a view to preserving residual hearing. Methods: Seventy-four patients with residual hearing after cochlear implant surgery were investigated for an impedance "spike," defined as a median rise of ≥4kΩ across all electrodes from the baseline measurements. Spikes were related to objective and subjective hearing loss, dizziness, and tinnitus. Results: An impedance spike occurred in 14% (10/74) of enrolled patients. Three months after surgery, five patients exhibited spikes and three of these patients had a total loss of their residual hearing. 4.3% of the 69 patients without spikes lost residual hearing. At 1 year, 9 of 10 patients who exhibited spikes had lost all their residual hearing. 8.1% of the 37 patients who did not experience a spike lost their residual hearing. Seventy percent of patients exhibiting a spike also experienced vertigo. The administration of steroids at the time of surgery did not influence the occurrence of spikes. Conclusion: Our results suggest that there is a relationship between a spike and the loss of residual hearing. It seems that rises in impedance can reflect pathology within the inner ear and predict the future loss of residual hearing.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1433-1439
    Number of pages7
    JournalOtology and Neurotology
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1


    • Cochlear implant
    • Impedance
    • Residual hearing

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Otorhinolaryngology
    • Sensory Systems
    • Clinical Neurology


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