Biphasic electrical pulses are the standard stimulation pulses in current cochlear implants. In auditory brainstem recordings biphasic pulses generate a significant artifact that disrupts brainstem responses, which are magnitudes smaller. Triphasic pulses may minimize artifacts by restoring the neural membrane to its resting potential faster than biphasic pulses and make auditory brainstem responses detection easier. We compared biphasic pulses with triphasic and precision triphasic pulses to evoke brainstem responses in human subjects. For this purpose, electrically evoked brainstem response audiometry was performed in 10 (11 ears) cochlear implant patients. Artifacts and brainstem responses evoked by bi- and triphasic stimulation were analyzed. Artifact amplitude and decay time were related to pulse pattern shape, but application of averaging and alternation reduced the deterioration of electrically evoked brainstem responses independent of pulse pattern shape. Contrary to our expectations, biphasic pulses showed a higher detectability in comparison to triphasic pulse stimulation at the same stimulation amplitude.
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