Hypothesis: Flat-panel based volume computed tomography could improve cochlear implant electrode evaluation in comparison with multislice computed tomography.
Background: Flat-panel based volume computed tomography offers higher spatial resolution and less metal artifacts than multislice computed tomography. Both characteristics could improve the evaluation of challenging but important questions in cochlear implantation assessment, such as an exact imaging of cochlea, osseous spiral lamina, electrode array position, and single electrode contacts. These questions are not currently fully answered by multislice computed tomography.
Methods: Four isolated temporal bone specimens were scanned in a current multislice computed tomography scanner and in two experimental flat-panel based volume computed tomography scanners before and after cochlea implantation. To compare flat-panel based volume computed tomography and multislice computed tomography, four features were rated according to the following criteria: 1) visibility of the cochlea; 2) visibility of the osseous spiral lamina; 3) discernibility of individual electrode contacts; and 4) the ability to determine the electrode array position relative to scala tympani and scala vestibuli. Layer-by-layer microgrinding pictures were used as the ground truth for verification of imaging findings.
Results: Flat-panel based volume computed tomography was superior to multislice computed tomography in all four features rated. The cochlea and facial nerve canal were much better delineated in flat-panel based volume computed tomography. The osseous spiral lamina and single electrode contacts were only visible in flat-panel based volume computed tomography. Assessment of implant position with regard to the cochlear spaces was considerably improved by flat-panel based volume computed tomography.
Conclusion: Cochlear implantation assessment could be improved by flat-panel based volume computed tomography and, therefore, would be highly beneficial for cochlea implantation research and for clinical evaluation. However, these first results were shown by scanning isolated temporal bone specimens; scanning whole human skull bases might be more challenging.